BCGEU to picket ministry offices

Provincial employees staging a one-day strike at ministry offices in Surrey, Kelowna, Campbell River and 100 Mile House on Aug. 7.

Union members picket at liquor distribution warehouse in July

Provincial government employees will stage a one-day strike at ministry offices in Surrey, Kelowna, Campbell River and 100 Mile House on Aug. 7, the second such action since rejecting the government’s wage offer.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union served strike notice with the Labour Relations Board Thursday. Three forests ministry offices are targeted, with 40 staff in Surrey, 50 in Campbell River and 60 combined at transportation and forest ministry offices in 100 Mile House. Another 30 union members in agriculture, health, environment and labour ministry jobs in Kelowna are to refuse a day’s work.

The BCGEU repeated its promise that forest firefighting, courts, corrections and other essential services won’t be affected by rotating strike action.

The first strike was at liquor distribution warehouses on July 3, after the union rejected an offer of a two per cent wage increase this year and another 1.5 per cent next year. The BCGEU is seeking about six per cent over two years after three years without a raise.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has warned that with the province in deficit, the wage offer could be withdrawn. The government describes its current negotiating mandate as “co-operative gains,” where pay increases must be financed by cost reductions in work arrangement.

The BCGEU proposed increasing revenues by opening more government liquor stores on Sundays, and deploying deputy sheriffs for traffic enforcement. Union negotiators said both ideas were rejected.