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B.C. public service workers vote in favour of strike


June 23, 2022
By Jennifer Ellson
Photo: Annex Business Media

The Professional Employees Association (PEA), the union representing more than 1,200 foresters, engineers, geoscientists, and other licensed professionals working for the B.C. government said its members have voted 92 per cent in favour of a strike.

Similarly, the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) said almost 95 per cent of its members voted to strike for a fair collective agreement.

“Our members are the scientific experts relied on to keep the province safe and they deserve wages that reflect the critical work they do,” said Melissa Moroz, PEA’s labour relations officer. “This strike vote result shows that these professionals are willing to take action to back up their demands for reasonable compensation.”

PEA said it has been bargaining with the B.C. Public Service Agency since April 11, but negotiations reached impasse on May 16, when B.C.’s wage proposals failed to address the rising cost of living. Meanwhile, the BCGEU said the provincial government invited the union to  resume negotiations on behalf of its 33,000 members on June 27.

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BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said cost-of-living adjustments were a crucial part of negotiations. “Any wage offer that doesn’t include COLA protection is a wage cut and no worker should have to accept a pay cut,” she said in a statement.

In a statement, PEA said it will begin planning job action but remains committed to getting back to the table once the government provides a meaningful offer that recognizes the value of workers in the public service. Essential services are currently being negotiated.

“The BC government already faces significant recruitment and retention issues and failing to provide fair wages that address inflation will make these issues more acute, which will impact the services British Columbians count on … with climate change and emergencies an ever-present reality, now is the time for the province to invest in public service professionals,” Moroz said.

Read the full statements:

Professional Employees Association

BC General Employees’ Union