BCGEU contract strike action continues
Union members seeking higher wage increase
Around 200 members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union walked off the job on Tuesday, the second in a series of walkouts by the province's largest public-sector union as it presses for higher wages.
One month after BCGEU members working at liquor distribution centre workers began the strike action, Tuesday saw more walkouts at four government offices, including the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations in Surrey.
The BCGEU's 25,000 members have been without a contract since March but talks with the provincial government to negotiate a new collective agreement stalled after the union rejected the two-year pay increase on offer.
Union President Darryl Walker said the government's offer of a 3.5 per cent pay raise over two years is not enough. Instead, the union is seeking a 3.5 per cent wage increase in the first year and a cost of living increase in the second.
"We haven't had a pay raise since April 1, 2009 and it's time we got an opportunity to get a fair and reasonable pay raise," he said.
"We want the general public to know that their services are being put in jeopardy because we are unable to get a fair and reasonable collective agreement."
In a statement issued Tuesday, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said the union's pursuit of further job action was disappointing.
"[The wage increase offered] would have meant an increase of roughly $1,700 over two years for an employee earning $48,000, but instead the union is choosing to hold events like this," he said.
"We are in a time of global economic uncertainty and we will not add to the deficit or raise taxes to provide unaffordable wage increases.
"I would encourage the unions to come back to the bargaining table so a deal can be reached.
With files from the CBC's Renee Filippone