Kelowna will not be exempt from a planned one-day, B.C.-wide strike by unionized B.C. government workers next week.
The strike, by 27,000 members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, the Professional Employees Association and the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Government offices and services, such as liquor stores, courts, corrections services, social workers, child protection offices and ICBC offices in 153 communities across B.C. will be affected.
In total, 1,785 worksites, will be hit but the unions say essential services will be maintained to protect the health and safety of British Columbians.
The strike is the latest move in the BCGEU’s bid for a new contract from the provincial government. The union has been without a contract since March 31.
“We are looking for a fair and reasonable agreement, but the government is not listening, said BCGEU president Darryl Walker. “We have no choice but to send a clear message on Sept. 5. There can be no more falling behind for all government workers. We’ve not taken the decision to strike lightly.”
Walker said since 2010, his members have suffered what he called a “real” wage cut of five per cent. The government’s last offer— now withdrawn—included a proposed wage hike of 3.5 per cent over two years. But that offer was rejected by the union, which said it would not keep up with inflation.
Earlier this month, Kelowna was one of four centres in B.C. hit by a revolving set of one-day strikes at government offices. Thirty workers at the Ministries of Labour, Agriculture, Health and Environment, housed in an office building on Powick Road, took part in the job action.
On the same day, another 150 worker at Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Transportation and Infrastructure offices in Surrey, Campbell River and 100 Mile House walked off the job for the day. It was the four one-day strike affecting B.C. government officers across the province in the union’s push for a new contract.
Wednesday’s planned province-wide strike is described as the latest in the series of one-day strikes.
The BCGEU represents 25,000 direct government workers. The PEA represents over 1,200 licensed professionals employed directly in BC’s public service. COPE 378 represents about 4,600 workers at the Insurance Corporation of BC, a crown corporation.