Editor’s note: The BCGEu will be meeting over the next few days, not years, as previously stated.
Public servants in Grand Forks joined the rest of British Columbia’s Government and Service Employee Union (BCGEU) workers for a one-day strike on Sept. 5.
In Grand Forks, the BCGEU workers held their strike signs outside the Service BC building on Market Avenue and 2nd Street.
Evan Stewart, communication officer for BCGEU, noted that the one-day strike was to get the government back on the bargaining table and to explain to the public their bargaining position.
“Right now, the government’s last offer would see our members wages continue to fall behind inflation,” he said. “Our members haven’t had a wage increase in over three years, since April 2009.”
Since that time period, Stewart pointed out that inflation has taken away five to five and a half cents from their paycheck.
The strike itself affected a range of services, including government offices and government-run liquor stores.
“The government put on the table an offer that was two per cent rise the first year, one and a half in the second year, which is below inflation,” Stewart said. “After three and a half years of no wage increase, our members weren’t prepared to go forward with an offer that would continue to see them fall behind.”
The BCEGU is asking for a three and a half per cent increase in the first year and a cost of living allowance, equal to inflation, the next year.
“That first year three and a half per cent would see some of our members return some spending power they’ve lost, while the cost of the living allowance in the second year would see them keep pace with inflation in the increase in the cost of living,” explained Stewart. “Our master bargaining committee will be meeting within the next few days and we’re going to decide what our next steps are.”
At the moment, the government and BCEGU are willing to get back to the bargaining table.
“The best place to negotiate this is at the bargaining table and not at the picketing line,” he concluded.
The walkout had around 25,000 members of BCGEU and roughly 2,000 members from other unions support the BCEGU union.