BC General Employees’ Union president Stephanie Smith at a rotating strike in Sidney/North Saanich. She says the union is at an impasse as of April 7 over wage negotiations with the B.C. Public Service Agency. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

BC General Employees’ Union president Stephanie Smith at a rotating strike in Sidney/North Saanich. She says the union is at an impasse as of April 7 over wage negotiations with the B.C. Public Service Agency. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

B.C. government worker union says contract talks with province at impasse over wages

Agreement for more than 33,000 union members expired on March 31

The union representing more than 33,000 British Columbia government employees says contract talks with the province have stalled over differences in wage proposals.

B.C. General Employees’ Union president Stephanie Smith says the government’s current wage offer does not go far enough to provide cost-of-living protections and the union will undertake an education campaign to prepare employees for a strike vote.

The contract expired on March 31.

Smith says in a statement the union is seeking a two-year deal that proposes a five per cent wage increase or the rate of inflation, whichever is higher in 2022 and 2023, while the province is offering 1.75 per cent this year and two per cent in both 2023 and 2024.

Both the Public Service Agency, representing the government, and the union have additional proposals that include flat-rate pay increases to benefit the lower-paid workers in the public service.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson says in a statement she understands and respects part of the bargaining process can include a union taking a strike vote.

“I respect their prerogative to do that in any round of negotiations,” she says. “The best agreements are worked out at the table. Leaving discussions at the table allows the parties who are negotiating to focus on reaching settlements.”

READ ALSO: BCGEU announces tentative agreement with Vancouver Island Regional Library

READ ALSO: B.C. moves to drop employee vote from union certification drives

The Canadian Press

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