BCGEU removes picket lines at liquor distribution centres as ‘sign of good faith’

Click to play video: 'BCGEU stands down job action as talks continue'
BCGEU stands down job action as talks continue
The BC General Employees' Union is standing down on job action as talks continue. The union began job action earlier this month at BC Liquor Distribution branches as talks to reach a new contract broke down. Aaron McArthur has more. – Aug 30, 2022

The BCGEU says it is standing down job action at B.C. Public Service worksites after both sides return to the bargaining table amidst the ongoing labour dispute.

Picket lines went up at liquor distribution warehouses on Aug. 14 as talks to reach a new contract broke down.

Read more: B.C. to ration liquor amid ongoing strike, says industry group

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So far, the province has offered the BCGEU wage increases amounting to about 11 per cent over three years, with a $2,500 signing bonus.

Click to play video: 'B.C. hospitality and tourism businesses urge end to job action'
B.C. hospitality and tourism businesses urge end to job action

In a statement Tuesday, the BCGEU said the removal of picket lines is a “sign of good faith.”

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“The committee returned to the bargaining table with the BC Public Service Agency (PSA) last Thursday and has made significant progress. The two sides will continue to meet throughout the week, hoping to finalize a tentative agreement,” the organization said in a statement.

The union’s overtime ban has also ended, effective immediately, and picket lines will be coming down soon.

Speaking at a media event Tuesday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said he is encouraged by the move that both parties are resuming bargaining.

“Satisfaction that collective bargaining can work,” Horgan said. “We need to understand and address the changes in our economy that have happened as a result of COVID, as a result of unprecedented supply chain issues.

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Provincial officials are hoping that a deal with the union, among B.C.’s biggest, will set the chain of dominoes in motion to settle disputes with the other public sectors.

The Hospital Employees Union had paused negotiations with the province but resumed talks last week.

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