FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2022
VICTORIA, B.C. – Negotiations between the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) and the provincial government's Public Service Agency (PSA) reached an impasse this week over an unresolved gap in wage proposals. The current agreement between the parties, which covers more than 33,000 union members, expired on March 31, 2022.
"Our members have been clear from day one - COLA (cost of living adjustment) protections are the key to a deal this round-and our bargaining committee carried that message to the employer," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president and chair of the union's bargaining committee, "Unfortunately, the employers' revised wage proposal suggests that they haven't yet gotten the message. In fact, what they offered was less than half of COLA."
The union's proposal, tabled on March 8th, was for a two year deal. The first year proposed COLA protection or a 5% general wage increase (whichever is greater). The second year proposed COLA or a 5% general wage increase, which would include a flat rate per hour that would positively impact the lowest wage workers in the public service. The proposal was designed to offer maximum protection for the union's members, protection that is in line with what is currently enjoyed by members of the legislative assembly, while remaining within the government's ability to pay.
"The bottom line is any wage offer that doesn't include COLA is a wage cut and no worker should be expected to take a wage cut-especially not the public service workers who kept our families safe and our province operating throughout all the uncertainty of the last few years."
The BCGEU began preparing for impasse and potential job action weeks ago as a standard part of the bargaining process. That work is ongoing and will include a provincewide member education campaign to ensure all 33,000 members of the union's public service bargaining unit are prepared for a strike vote.
"Our union has a long-standing and very constructive working relationship with the PSA," said Smith. "We've been bargaining agreements and solving problems together for almost 50 years. I'm hopeful that they will get the message and come back to us with an offer our members can ratify."
The BCGEU is the first of several public sector unions to bargain with the government in 2022. In total, almost 400,000 public sector workers have agreements that will, or already have, expire this year.
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