BCGEU members reject a salary increase of 9.99 percent in three years

The provincial government and 33,000 of its workers are miles apart in negotiating the collective agreement

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The BC government has sent a note directly to 33,000 members of the BC General Clerks Union, informing them of its offer of a 9.99 per cent wage increase for three years.

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“Many of you may have seen the latest BCGEU bulletin indicating that the union is planning a specific strike following the breakdown of talks between the union and the employer,” wrote Deputy Minister of the BC Public Utilities Agency Bobbi Sadler.

“With the potential for a future strike, I think there is value in sharing the monetary offer that the employer has submitted with the BCGEU with you directly so that you have the full context of where the negotiations stand. You should talk to your union representative if you have questions about a possible strike.”

Union members voted 95 percent to strike, if necessary, on June 22.

Sadler went on to say that the government had offered pay raises of 3.76 percent, 3.23 percent, and three percent over three years (with a signing bonus of up to $2,500).

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If the rate of inflation over the three-year term is higher than 9.5 percent, workers would receive up to one percent more during the last year of the contract.

The BCGEU represents a wide range of provincial government workers, from liquor store employees to wildland firefighters, administrative staff, prison staff and social workers. Some of its members are essential workers and therefore cannot strike.

On Monday, BCGEU President and negotiating committee chairwoman Stephanie Smith said the negotiations failed because the government was not prepared to offer a promise that wage increases would keep pace with the rate of inflation.

Inflation in Canada is now close to eight percent, due in part to supply chain issues from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The federal government is raising interest rates to try to cool down the economy and lower prices, but this has no effect on things like the price of gasoline.

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Smith said his members wanted pay raises in the 5 percent range, with cost-of-living protections.

Cost-of-living guarantees for union wage agreements are unusual, but they were in the spotlight last month when BC’s chief mediator, Vince Ready, included a cost-of-living adjustment in a collective agreement that was accepted by drivers. of buses in the Sea. to the Sky route and your employer.

There are about 400,000 government workers who have collective agreements that expire in 2022.

Sadler said the government and the BCGEU continue to negotiate essential service levels, which must be concluded before any strike.

“In this case, ‘essential service’ refers to the minimum staffing levels that must be maintained to prevent immediate and serious harm to the health, safety, or welfare of British Columbians during a strike,” he wrote. Sadler.

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Smith said any workplace action would initially be things like overtime bans and working to rule, which means not doing any tasks that are outside of the collective agreement.

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