BCGEU ramping up for possible job action

The head of the BC General Employees’ Union says preparations for job action are ramping up after talks with the province broke down.

Earlier this week, the Public Services Agency sent an infographic showing the employer’s latest offer directly to the union’s members, bypassing the negotiating team. The move is highly unusual and coming under fire by the BCGEU.

“We’re disappointed that that was a tactic that was used by our employer,” union president Stephanie Smith told CTV News.

The infographic shows the province is offering a 25 cent per hour increase plus a three per cent raise in year one. There’s an additional 25 cent hourly increase with a 2.5 per cent raise in year two, and a three per cent raise in year three – with the possibility of another one per cent.

Together with a one-time $ 2,500 payment, the infographic says that works out to roughly 11 per cent over three years for the lowest earners.

“Interestingly, it has not landed well with our members,” added Smith.

The province put out the numbers after the union did the same, detailing a previous offer. Smith said that was strategic.

“We needed them to understand why we were coming to them and asking for a strike vote. And so we did take the unusual step of providing that to our membership,” she added.

The union is looking for five per cent for each of the next two years, or the cost of living, whichever is higher.

The employer didn’t provide anyone for an interview Thursday. It’s not something the Public Services Agency typically does.

According to public documents, the government spends more than $ 38-billion on compensation. A one per cent bump means an additional $ 314 million needs to be found in the budget.

“We’re not asking for anything outrageous. Wages that are tied to inflation are what members of the legislative assembly get,” added Smith.

Whether MLAs or unions, the increases fall to the taxpayer, who relies on public services and may also be feeling the pinch of inflation. The goal in negotiations now is to get a deal before any potential job action.

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