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Strike notice issued by BC government workers

A union representing tens of thousands of government workers handed the BC government a 72-hour strike notice Friday afternoon.

The notice on behalf of the BC General Employees’ Union means that those workers will be in a legal position to take some form of job action before 3 pm Monday.

The union, which has 33,000 members who work for the provincial government, said it won’t be releasing details of what that job action will be for now.

According to the union, the most recent collective agreement with the Public Service Agency expired back in April.

Negotiations have been underway since February, but so far, no deal has been reached.

In a news release, the BCGEU said bargaining reached an impasse on April 6. Union members voted in June in favor of job action, and although the parties met in July in another attempt to reach an agreement, “talks quickly broke down.”

The union said the PSA invited it back to the bargaining table this week again, but “exploratory discussions” made it feel that a return “would not be fruitful at this time.”

Back in July, the PSA sent an infographic showing its latest offer directly to union members, bypassing the negotiation team.

The graphic showed the province was offering a 25-cent-per-hour increase, plus a three per cent raise in Year 1.

There’s an additional 25-cent hourly increase with a 2.5 per cent raise for Year 2, and a three per cent raise – with the possibility of another one per cent – ​​in Year 3.

Together with a one-time $2,500 payment, that works out to about 11 per cent more money over three years for the union’s lowest-paid workers, the graphic said.

On its side, the union is looking for five per cent pay boosts each year for two years, or a raise to match the cost of living – whichever is higher.

According to public documents, the government spends more than $38 billion on compensation. A one per cent pay increase would mean another $314 million would need to be found in the budget.

The union says it’s asking for the same deal as is given to members of the legislative assembly.

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