Talks break down between BCGEU and B.C. Public Service Agency

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      One of the province's largest unions is making preparations for a public-service strike.

      The B.C. General Employees' Union said that today after contract talks with the B.C. Public Service Agency went off the rails after three days of negotiations.

      In a news release issued today (July 4), the B.C. General Employees' Union said that the employer refused to offer a response to the union's offer, preferring a "take it or leave it" approach to bargaining.


      “To say we are disappointed is an understatement: despite our best efforts to bridge the gap, government has refused to table a proposal that meets our members’ key demand of cost-of-living protection,” BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said in a news release. “Our members have told us since the beginning of this round of bargaining that they would not ratify a deal which did not address the increasing cost of living.”

      Smith, chair of the public service bargaining committee, noted that the B.C. government's offer last week failed to meet the needs of the BCGEU's 33,000 members whose contracts are up for renegotiation.

      "Our union's revised wage proposal is within the monetary framework that government has laid out, and yet the employer was not willing to budge, notwithstanding over $16 billion in unallocated reserves in their most recent fiscal plan,” Smith said.

      Nearly 400,000 public-sector workers' contracts have expired or will expire this year.

      Negotiations occurred in the midst of the highest inflation levels in Canada in 40 years, with prices up 8.1 percent in B.C. on average on an annualized basis in May.