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Government union plans one-day strike

Aug 29 2012

Twenty-five thousand government employees who work in areas such as corrections, liquor stores and child protection will ramp up their job action by staging a one-day strike Sept. 5.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, which has been staging small walkouts over the summer in an effort to reach a new contract with the government, is expected to announce the strike at a news conference today.

"We are striking for a fair and reasonable agreement and to support BCGEU members' wage proposal, but the government is not listening," BCGEU president Darryl Walker said in a notice to members Tuesday.

"We have not taken the decision to strike lightly. We have no choice but to send a clear message on Sept. 5: There can be no more falling behind for government workers."

In the message, Walker told union members they will be joined by members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Local 378, which represents workers at the Insurance Corp. of B.C., who are also seeking a new contract.

A BCGEU spokesman would not comment Tuesday on the plans, but he did say union officials would make a formal announcement today in Vancouver.

Walker, COPE 378 president David Black and Professional Employees Association executive director Scott McCannell are all expected to be at the announcement.

The BCGEU, whose contract expired March 31, is asking for a wage increase of 3.5 per cent in the first year and a cost-of-living increase in the second year.

The government had offered 3.5 per cent over two years, but that offer was withdrawn when strike action began.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said in a statement: "While disappointing, this job action is to be expected and is a normal part of the bargaining process.

"I expect we'll see further job action across the public sector throughout the fall. Government made a fair and reasonable offer in these negotiations. It is irresponsible for the union to be asking for further wage increases given the uncertain world economic situation. We will not add to the deficit or raise taxes to pay unaffordable wage increases."

BCGEU members work in corrections and sheriff services; hospital and allied services; retail liquor stores and warehouses; government administrative and support services; environmental, technical and operational services; and social work, child protection, probation services and systems analysis.