BC General Employees’ Union to return to bargaining table as strike remains in effect

Click to play video: 'Labour pains for the BC NDP government'
Labour pains for the BC NDP government
WATCH: The escalating strike by the BCGEU puts the NDP government in a uniquely awkward position, especially considering some MLAs and cabinet ministers are former labour leaders. Aaron McArthur reports – Aug 23, 2022

After more than a week on the picket line, the union representing about 33,000 public servants in B.C. will return to the bargaining table with the provincial government.

Members of the British Columbia General Employees’ Union launched their strike on Aug. 15, calling for wage protection against inflation and the rising cost of living.

Click to play video: 'HEU to resume contract talks with the province'
HEU to resume contract talks with the province

The employer, the BC Public Service Agency, invited the BCGEU to resume negotiations on Monday evening.

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Bargaining is expected to resume soon, according to a Tuesday statement from the union, while job action will continue to keep the “pressure” on.

Click to play video: 'BCGEU escalates job action after strike enters second week'
BCGEU escalates job action after strike enters second week

Read more: BC General Employees’ Union bans overtime as job action continues

“This is a significant development, and it is the direct result of the pressure BCGEU members have applied, which includes the current job action and shows solidarity from BCGEU members and allies.”

The organization said it would not make additional comments as the two sides have agreed to a “media and member communications blackout.”

Click to play video: 'BCGEU declares ban on non-emergency overtime work'
BCGEU declares ban on non-emergency overtime work

The news comes as bar and restaurant owners, and private cannabis shops, report dwindling supplies of alcohol and cannabis. The strike has impacted government-run distribution centres.

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Last Friday, the province announced rations at its liquor stores, limiting customer purchases to no more than three bottles or six-packs of a single kind of beverage, with the exception of beer.

“I welcome the news that the BCGEU has accepted the Public Service Agency’s invitation to return to the bargaining table,” said B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson in a Tuesday statement.

“I am hopeful that talks this week will lead to a fair and reasonable collective agreement for members, the people of British Columbia and our government’s fiscal plan so that we also have the resources to continue delivering the services and support that everyone in B.C. depends on.”

Click to play video: 'BCGEU accepts government’s offer to return to the bargaining table'
BCGEU accepts government’s offer to return to the bargaining table

Read more: Alcohol running dry for restaurant industry as BCGEU goes on strike

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Picketing public servants include wildfire firefighters, correctional officers, administration staff, and more.

Last week, the union turned up the heat, calling on its members to refuse all non-emergency overtime, apart from BC Wildfire Service staff.

The most recent collective agreement between the union and Public Service Agency expired on April 1. The BCGEU sought wage increases of five per cent per year or inflation, whichever is higher.

Click to play video: 'BCTF contract negotiations latest'
BCTF contract negotiations latest


According to B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon, the province’s most recent monetary proposal to the union would have seen the average BCGEU member earn a wage increase of up to 10.99 per cent over a three-year term. It included an increase of 25 cents per hour and a raise of three per cent in the first year, plus another 25 cents an hour and raise of 2.5 per cent in the second year, and a guaranteed three per cent raise, and conditional raise of up to another one per cent in the third year.

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It also included an “upfront payment” of $2,500 to provide immediate support to members.

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