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Your new collective agreement: Frequently Asked Questions (BC Wildfire Service) - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

As you know, BCGEU members working for the B.C. Public Service have a new collective agreement with the B.C. Public Service Agency (PSA), as ratified on October 17, 2022.
Included in the agreement is a “Memorandum of Agreement Re: BC Wildfire Service Regular Full-time Appointments” (MOA).
Highlights for BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) members include securing full-time regular work. This is significant as your union was successful in negotiating that first offers be made via seniority rather than by competition. This will help ensure that experienced and skilled workers remain with the service and have first right of refusal to become a full-time regular employee.
Although achievements have been made, the work is not done. There is much more that requires attention and your union is committed to ensuring that the outcome is a positive one for the membership.
We realize the new agreement and the MOA raise many questions and concerns for you. Our Article 29 Sub-Committee (Wildfire) is actively liaising with the PSA to get answers and solutions for you. Below we have addressed the most common concerns we’ve heard. If your concern or question is not addressed here, please email [email protected].
When will the new agreement be implemented?
Our new collective agreement is now in effect and is retroactive to April 1, 2022. However, some elements of it will take some time to roll out. For example, we anticipate that new rates will take 2-3 pay periods to appear on pay cheques. This includes:

  • General wage increase to all Public Service employees
  • Grid 11 moved to Grid 12
  • Grid 13 moved to Grid 15

When will classification appeals be processed?
The PSA has not provided clear timelines for this payment, but we anticipate it will take them months to complete. We understand that the PSA should have a list of all employees eligible for a classification appeal; however, our union’s classification appeals team is also working with members to ensure the PSA’s list is accurate. If you believe you should be on the list but are not, or are unsure if you are on the list, please email [email protected] or respond to this email.

When will job postings reflect the grids and rates outlined in the new collective agreement?
Jobs should now be posted to reflect the current grids and rates. If you see a job posting that does not, please forward to [email protected] and we will raise it with Component 20 Vice President Rob Davis. Your union will also raise the issue with the employer co-chair of the Article 29 BCWS sub-committee.

Questions about the PSA’s process to convert the 113 positions in BC Wildfire Service include:

How will offers of conversions be made?
These 113 regular full-time positions will be filled initially through the conversion of seasonal regular and auxiliary employees within their existing seniority units.

Conversion will be offered to, and accepted or declined by, the most senior employee (seasonal regular or auxiliary) that meets the test for conversion for the regular full-time position by December 1, 2022. If the employer does not receive a response by December 1, 2022, the offer will be deemed declined.

What does it mean for me if I accept, or if I don’t accept, an offer of conversion?
Employees may decline this initial offer of conversion and maintain their existing status.

Seasonal regular employees who decline this initial offer of conversion will be deemed surplus and may be subject to article 13 at the end of the term of the 19th Main Agreement. This offer will only be made to auxiliary or seasonal regular employees this one time. Should any auxiliary or seasonal regular employee wish to become full time, they will be required to compete for a posting when such postings become available.

Will the employer offer multiple start dates?
To date we are uncertain if the employer will provide multiple start date options.

Can I revert back to Auxiliary?
All existing seasonal regular employees will also be given a one-time option to revert to auxiliary status, which they must either accept or decline by January 13, 2023.  If the employer does not receive a response by January 13, 2023, the offer will be deemed declined.

Any advice whether I should convert to full-time regular, or stay as an auxiliary?
We encourage members to review all available information and make their decision based upon what is best for them. Do not hesitate to send any questions you may have to [email protected].

The process outlined in the MOA relates to a decision made by the B.C. government as announced in the 2022 provincial budget to create a number of permanent, full-time regular positions in the BC Wildfire Service that will support its transition from a seasonal to year-round service. This was an action that the BCGEU had been pushing for years for government to take.

The government has determined that the first set of conversions, for now, will be approximately 113 positions. It is unclear at this time who will be offered the option to convert, or how, why, and when.

How is sick leave compensated?
Sick Leave, Special Leave, and Discretionary Leave are compensated at an employee’s regular workday. A regular workday can be between 7 and 10 hours, based on the employee’s schedule.

In Solidarity,
Robert Davis, Vice President - Component 20