2% raises: tentative agreement between B.C. government and BCGEU keeps wage increases at inflation

CBC News has learned the tentative agreement between the B.C. government and the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) calls for wage increases of two per cent in each of the next three years.

With most public sector unions up for renewal in 2019, figure expected to be a benchmark going forward

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said the tentative agreement with the BCGEU is the first of 183 with the province's public sector employees. Deals are expected to be negotiated over the next two years. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

The proposed new contract between the B.C. government and the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) will keep wage increases around the rate of inflation.

CBC News has learned the tentative agreement, which covers 21,800 employees, calls for yearly wage increases of two per cent in each of the next three years. 

The deal has yet to be ratified by the BCGEU, and the province has said it will not release the details until that time. 

The agreement had been highly anticipated, due to the number of public sector unions with collective agreements expiring in 2019. 

"That's a win for the NDP," said Mark Thompson, professor emeritus at UBC's Sauder School of Business, who said the agreement would likely form the benchmark for government negotiations with other unions. 

"The allegation is they'll give away the store to the public sector unions, and two per cent is certainly not giving away the store, no matter what anyone says ... that sets the tone."

However, he said union negotiators may be pleased with the overall deal.

"You'd want to look at the fine print, but the union is basically settling for the status quo, so there might be something else there that they got other than the wage rate."

The Ministry of Finance confirmed the wage increases to CBC News, but otherwise would not comment on the details of the agreement.

"It's important that the union has the time needed to communicate the details of the agreement with its members through the ratification process," it said in a statement. 

Read more from CBC British Columbia 

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Justin McElroy

@j_mcelroy

Justin is a reporter for CBC Vancouver, covering political stories throughout British Columbia.