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 Most provincial unions accepted the two-year freeze, but the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has refused and withdrawn non-essential services since September.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

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

West Kootenay afternoon storms spark fires

Lots of thunder and lightning, and little rain, as system moves through region

PLACE NAMES: Rossland neighbourhoods, Part 1

Early Rossland townsite built on top of mining claims

Webster students find missing man

Man reported missing from his Warfield home Wednesday night

Getting to know you better: Rossland kids spend day with nature

Third annual bio-blitz brings kids more environmental awareness

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read