B.C. reaches first tentative agreement with 26,500 public-sector workers

The B.C. government has reached its first tentative agreement with 26,500 public-sector workers in the province, setting the stage for negotiations with other unions in the coming months.

Nearly every major public sector union in the province has its contracts up for renewal in 2019

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said the tentative agreement is the first among 183 with the province's public sector employees. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

The B.C. government has reached its first tentative agreement with 26,500 public sector employees in the province, eight months before their contract was set to expire. 

The agreement covers:

  • 21,800 employees who are members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union
  • 4,200 employees working in the Liquor Distribution Branch 
  • 480 employees at the B.C. Pension Corporation

The province will release details in the coming weeks, when all the agreements are ratified. 

Nearly every major public sector union in the province has its contracts up for renewal in 2019, including nurses and other health-care workers, teachers and school support staff, civil servants and employees with ICBC and BC Hydro.

The province has more than 326,000 unionized public sector employees.

Unions have signalled their intent to ask for higher wages, following years of stagnant wages under the former B.C. Liberal government. 

Most public unions in B.C. saw wage increases under the rate of inflation for the last decade. 

 "This tentative agreement is the first among 183 that will help us deliver better services to British Columbians, and we look forward to unions and employers continuing to reach freely negotiated agreements," B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said in a statement. 

Union in NDP pockets: B.C. Liberals

The B.C. Liberals said they would look into the deal to ensure it isn't a payoff to B.C. NDP supporters.

Leader Andrew Wilkinson said the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union has donated more than $2.7 million to the B.C. NDP party since 2005. 

"It's no surprise the NDP has been able to come to terms with one of their biggest political supporters, and the public deserves to know where their money is going and why," he said. 

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