BCGEU begins contract talks

The B.C. government begins contract talks with one of its largest employee groups this week, and the union wants a raise.

BCGEU president Darryl Walker

The B.C. government begins contract talks with one of its largest unions this week, and the union wants a raise as most of its members come off a two-year wage freeze.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union represents 25,000 direct provincial employees, including prison guards, deputy sheriffs, liquor store staff, social workers, probation officers, biologists, lab workers and nursing and other staff at facilities including Riverview Hospital and Forensic Psychiatric Hospital.

Another group of BCGEU workers in health, community social service and other jobs with contracted agencies are set to begin talks in February. About 85 per cent of all union members have contracts expiring in 2012.

“We’ll be going to every table determined to get wage improvements,” BCGEU president Darryl Walker said.

In bargaining conferences held with union members in December, members also want improvements to benefits and job security.

As the union and the provincial bargaining agency exchange opening proposals, the B.C. government is looking at a $3.1 billion operating deficit for this year. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has repeatedly indicated that there will be no budget increases to pay higher wages.

In its October throne speech, the government said any raises would have to be funded by “cooperative gains” that create savings elsewhere.

That declaration is similar to the “net zero” mandate in effect for the last two years. Most provincial unions accepted the two-year freeze, but the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has refused and withdrawn non-essential services since September.

Walker has suggested that opening more government liquor stores on Sundays could generate additional revenues to fund a raise for BCGEU staff. And he isn’t ruling out strike action.

“We have a tough road ahead,” Walker wrote in an open letter to members on the BCGEU website. “But we’re prepared for any action we have to take to get you the improved contracts you’ve earned.”

Just Posted

Mudslide closes viewing area at Sooke Potholes

Safety concerns have led to the closure

Second co-housing community planned for Sooke

Community described as a ‘new way of living’

Gas pipeline protest planned for Sooke

Local activists join with other protests across Canada

Almost four of 10 Canadians have unlimited internet data at home

Fifty-four per cent say they telecommute at least sometimes

Esquimalt needs urgent health care facility, mayor says

A severe doctor shortage is leaving Esquimalt residents scrambling for health care

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Most Read