Balloting across province over the next three weeks
Victoria (12 Feb. 2006) - The 25,000 women and men who work in the provincial public service will be taking a strike vote to back contract requests for protection from privatization and contracting out and stronger job security, says the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). The vote will take approximately three weeks to complete.
“We said at the outset of these negotiations that any settlement had to include stronger job security for the thousands of women and men who deliver critical public services day in and day out in communities around this province,” says George Heyman, BCGEU president.
“We warned the government that we will fight any attempt to weaken our members’ rights in this area. Our members, the public, and the future of the public service depend on it. After four weeks at the table, so far those words have fallen on deaf ears," Heyman adds.
'Still miles apart'
“The government said it wants to replace confrontation with conversation; it wants peace and stability. So do we. So do British Columbians. But it’s going to take stronger job security. And we’re still miles apart on this critical issue," he says.
“Clearly, it’s going to take more pressure for the government to take our members’ proposals seriously. We are reporting back to our members and asking them to send a strong, clear message to the government: hands off our jobs.
“Today, the BCGEU is commencing a strike vote in the public service. We are confident that our members will deliver their bargaining committee a strong strike mandate to back their demands at the bargaining table.”
Heyman said after years of massive cutbacks, wage freezes, contracting out, and wholesale elimination of important programs and services, workers in the public service have had enough.
“These are dedicated, committed people. They protect our children and the environment. They keep liquor out of the hands of minors. They assist the most vulnerable in our society. They are the first point of contact with the public who are seeking help. They’ve more than paid the price for the government’s fiscal policies. Wages have fallen behind. Morale is at an all-time low. They deserve better."
Heyman said the union is committed to continue bargaining and working to achieve an agreement before the current one expires and has dates set with the government through to the end of March.
“The government has given the union a March 31 deadline to conclude negotiations. Well, we’ve now given them a deadline,” Heyman said. NUPGE