Letter: Still no deal after four days of negotiations

Kelowna - These past few days have been disappointing for BCGEU

Open letter to Thompson Okanagan communities:

We are writing to update the community on the outcome of the most recent round of talks between Gateway and the BCGEU.

When the union asked us to return to mediation we had hoped this meant the union would come to the table with more reasonable expectations, unfortunately these past few days of mediation have resulted in further disappointment.

Negotiations ended after we presented the union with a monetary package that had proposed wage increases that would have every employee receiving an increase from 7 per cent to as much as 19 per cent in the first year alone.

These wages, in addition to tips of $8 to $12 per hour, would see our employees making well over market rates. Our proposal is well above other recent settlements in British Columbia both by government and private companies.

Yet, after more than five weeks without discussion, the union continues to propose wage increases of more than 24 per cent. Their wage proposals remain above the wages of even the largest casinos operating 24/7 in Metro Vancouver.

If the union was really serious about bargaining and bringing an end to the strike then they would have come prepared with a serious monetary package. A 24 per cent increase in wages in the first year is clearly in excess of any reasonable wage increase and simply not competitive for any business, including ours.

We are very disappointed that we are again at the end of a mediation session without a tentative collective agreement. The union seemed more interested in maligning our business at every opportunity than having serious discussions at the bargaining table to get a deal and get employees back to work.

More than 600 of our employees have now been on strike for more than 10 weeks – which is causing harm to them and the business. Everyone is losing except for the union leadership who continue to get paid regularly, and they are the ones who continue to stall the process.

In the meantime, our operations in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Kamloops remain open for business and we hope our customers will visit us soon.

Tanya Gabara

Director of public relations, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited

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