BCGEU targets Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in its next strike action
The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union has not gone on strike against the provincial government since 1988.
But tomorrow (August 20), members will be walking the picket lines in Prince George, Cranbrook, Nelson, Dawson Creek, and Burns Lake.
In Prince George, the job action will involve 265 workers with the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Children and Family Development, and Service B.C.
In Cranbrook, 50 members from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and FrontCounterBC will be off the job.
In Nelson, Burns Lake and Dawson Creek, 146 members from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will be on strike.
It's the third limited walkout of the summer by the BCGEU, which has rejected a 3.5 percent wage offer over two years.
The strike at Ministry of Forests offices in the B.C. Interior comes just after the government announced that the fire-danger rating for the province is mostly "high" and that 79 firefighters were brought in from other provinces to provide more protection.
Meanwhile in February, Auditor General John Doyle released damning report on how the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations was managing the timber supply.
According to Doyle, the ministry had "not clearly defined its timber objectives and, as a result, cannot ensure that its management practices are effective".
"Ministry staff expressed concern about whether there is sufficient capacity at the field level to carry out the evaluations needed to support decision-making," Doyle stated at one point in his report.
On August 15, the legislature's special committee on timber supply released a report calling for numerous actions to better manage the province's forests.
The BCGEU claimed that if all of these changes were implemented, they "could help move to reverse a decade of budget cuts and mismanagement of B.C.'s public forests ministry".
The BCGEU's submission to the committee pointed out that the decline of the timber supply has had a negative economic and social impact on the province, causing thousands to lose their livelihoods.
"For over a decade, the BCGEU has warned of the consequences of neglect and disinvestment from B.C.'s public forest lands and has been continuously voicing its opposition to staff and funding cuts, specifically those to research, inventory, and reforestation," the union stated. "Deregulation and deep cuts to B.C.'s Forest Service have put our forests at even greater risk, causing a groundswell of alarm about the current and future health of our forests."
The B.C. government has spurned the union's call for more liquor stores to be opened on Sunday, which it claims would generate an additional $100 million in revenue. The BCGEU also wants deputy sheriffs used in traffic enforcement, arguing that this would save money for taxpayers because they're less expensive than police officers.
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