BCGEU stages one-day strike in support of fair and acceptable agreement
More than 50 B.C. Government Employee Union members walked off the job Monday at the Nelson Ministry of Forests regional office on the North Shore to protest the lack of movement on current talks with the B.C. Government.
“We’re off today trying to achieve a fair and acceptable agreement,” said Doug Kinna of the BCGEU provincial executive from the picket lines on Ridgewood Road.
“The wage offers hasn’t gotten close enough.”
Fellow workers in Prince George, Cranbrook, Dawson Creek and Burns Lake joined the Nelson BCGEU members during the one-day job action.
The BCGEU members erected a tent outside the entrance to the Ministry of Forests regional office.
The workers held picket signs and waved flags to honking of horns from passing North Shore motorists.
The BCGEU 25,000 members have been without a contract since March.
Talks between the province and BCGEU ground to a halt with the after the union rejected the two-year pay increase on offer.
The BCGEU was not happy with the government’s offer of a 3.5 per cent pay raise over two years.
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 know the economy isn’t that good but underpaying your workers isn’t the way to try and fix it,” Kinna explained. “Every penny paid to a government worker comes back into the community. We support local communities all across the province.”
“It’s not money leaving the province its money for the province,” Kinna added.
Kinna said the union has offered the government more than $300 Million in revenue-generating ideas.
The first is to open Liquor Stores on Sunday and the second put deputy sheriffs for traffic safety and enforcement.
“The $300 Million is way more than we’re asking in wage increases so there would be lots left over for general revenue,” Kinna said.
The BCGEU was responding to Finance Minister Kevin Falcon suggestion if unions want bigger increases they must find savings to offset the difference.
This is the third salvo fired by the BCGEU during this labour dispute.
Earlier this summer BCGEU members picketed three Liquor Distribution Branch sites in Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops on July 3.
Then on August 7, the union took strike action at Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations and Ministry of Labour, Agriculture, Health and Environment in Surrey, Kelowna, Campbell River and 100 Mile House.
When asked Kinna was specific one the next move by the BCGEU executive, however he did say actions most likely would increase.
“We’re not strike happy . . . this is the last place we want to be,” Kinna said. “We haven’t been on strike since 1988.”