"If there is a settlement in sight, we’ll know this week." - George Heyman
Vancouver (6 March 2006) - Public sector workers in British Columbia have voted 80% in favour of striking if necessary to win a fair contract with the Liberal government of Premier Gordon Campbell, says the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).
“The people who protect our children, who guard inmates, who manage our forests and protect the environment, who care for the mentally ill, who keep liquor out of the hands of minors and who ensure the day to day administration of public services is running effectively and efficiently have sent a strong message to the government,” says BCGEU President George Heyman.
“Clearly, our members reject the government’s wage offer that doesn’t make up for two years of wage freezes, let alone keep pace with the future cost of living increases. They reject the government’s demands for more privatization and contracting out of their work," Heyman says.
"They reject the government’s attempts to weaken, not strengthen, their employment security. They’ve said, loud and clear, that they deserve better in this round of bargaining and are prepared to fight for it.”
Heyman says the union remains intent on negotiating a tentative agreement by March 31, the expiry date of the current contract. Negotiators for the union are willing to remain at the table as long as progress is made, he adds.
“We’ve continued to bargain with the government’s negotiators over the last three weeks while the strike vote was taking place," he notes.
"We are working hard, trying to find creative ways to resolve issues and improve the delivery of services to the public and we’ve reached agreement on a significant number of issues raised by both parties. But our members’ key issues of privatization and contracting out, fair wages and employment security are still on the table. There will be no tentative agreement until these issues are resolved,” Heyman says.
“When we resume negotiations with the government next week, we will have the backing of a strong strike mandate from our members. Hopefully, that will provide the impetus we need to get a settlement.”
Bargaining is scheduled in Vancouver all this week. “These next days are critical. If there is a settlement in sight, we’ll know this week,” Heyman says. NUPGE