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Preparations for public service strike escalate as talks break down - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

After three days of positive negotiations last week, your bargaining committee was surprised and disappointed that despite our best efforts to bridge the gap, your employer – the B.C. government through the Public Service Agency (PSA) – has refused to table a proposal that meets your key demand of cost-of-living protection.

Talks between your bargaining committee and the employer broke down this morning because the employer refused to engage in further negotiations.

Last week, your bargaining committee developed a creative proposal that addressed what you said you needed, including cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) and wage protection from inflation. We agreed to the employer proposal for a three-year term for a new collective agreement. We also tabled a wage proposal that attempts to work within the fiscal framework of the most recent employer proposal. Instead of matching union moves to reach a deal, the government came back to the table this morning with an unacceptable "take it or leave it" approach and refused to counter our offer.

Their revised wage proposal, tabled last week, failed to meet the needs and priorities that our members– you and the 33,000 other members in the public service – identified for us. 

Your bargaining committee recognized that you would not accept this: you've told us all along that you would not ratify a deal that did not include cost-of-living protections. Ironically, while the provincial government is refusing to give public service workers COLA protections, MLAs have legislated themselves COLA protections.

Our union's revised wage proposal is within the monetary framework that government has laid out, and yet the employer was not willing to budge notwithstanding over $16 billion in unallocated reserves in their current fiscal plan.

Next steps:

As you are likely aware, nearly 95 per cent of you voted in favour of striking for a fair collective agreement that includes cost-of-living adjustments. 

What will happen in the meantime?

  • We will be redoubling our efforts to finalize essential services
  • We will be planning strategic targeted job action
  • For now, your collective agreement remains in place. That means you will continue working as usual until you hear otherwise from your bargaining committee.

Essential service mediated negotiations with the assistance of the Labour Relations Board continue tomorrow.

As always, your bargaining committee remains committed to getting a fair deal. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to the bargaining table as soon as government comes to us with a serious wage proposal that meets your needs. 

We remain united in our commitment to negotiate a deal that members will want to ratify. Our members deserve it, and government can afford it. In the meantime, strike preparations will be ramping up.

In solidarity,

Your BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee
Stephanie Smith, President
Paul Finch, Treasurer
Judy Phipps, Executive Vice President
Dean Purdy, Vice President - Component 1
Kusam Doal, Vice President - Component 5
Judy Fox-McGuire, Vice President - Component 6
Kayla Woodruff, Member at Large - Component 6
Maria Middlemiss, Vice President - Component 12
Matt Damario, Component 12
Robert Davis, Vice President - Component 20
Michael Eso, Secretary and Lead Negotiator
Lisa Lane, Support Staff

Download PDF of notice here