by Contributor on Monday August 22 2022
Late last night the Public Service Agency (PSA) invited the BCGEU’s Public Service Bargaining Committee back to the table to resume talks. The bargaining committee has accepted that invitation.
Bargaining is expected to resume soon, but logistics are still being confirmed.
This is a significant development, and it is the direct result of the pressure BCGEU members have applied, which includes the current job action and shows solidarity from BCGEU members and allies.
In order to maintain that pressure, the union’s current job action will remain in effect until further notice.
The parties have agreed to a media and member communications blackout so no further comment will be made.
BCGEU escalates job action with overtime ban in B.C. Public Service
In a media release Monday, the bargaining committee representing 33,000 BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) members said the B.C. Public Service is escalating job action by declaring a ban on non-emergency overtime for BCGEU members working in the B.C. public service effective immediately.
The release said the overtime ban will not apply to members employed in BC Wildfire Service for the duration of the current wildfire season. In addition to the overtime ban, targeted job action at BC Liquor Distribution Branch distribution and wholesale centres remains in effect.
“BC’s public service has been reliant on our members’ overtime for far too long and dealing with the systemic issues behind that reliance is part of what we’re trying to achieve in this round of bargaining,” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president and chair of the union’s public service bargaining committee.
“In this job action our members are the vanguard of the broader public sector in our province. We hope this escalation gives government the incentive they need to invite us back to the bargaining table and negotiate a deal that will ensure robust, sustainable public services for our province and a fair deal for BCGEU members and all public sector workers.”
Workers’ willingness to perform overtime in non-emergency situations can mask the true impact of systemic issues like under-staffing, excessive workload and high turnover—issues that have plagued the public service for years. In fact, public service workers feel tremendous pressure to work overtime in order to protect the individuals, families and communities they serve.
But reliance on overtime is unsustainable and dangerous, leading to burnout, increased risk to physical and psychological safety of workers and erosion of the services people rely on.
The most recent collective agreement between the union and the Public Service Agency (PSA) expired on April 1, 2022.
Negotiations for a new collective agreement started on February 8. Bargaining reached impasse on April 6, and union members voted 95% in favour of job action on June 22.
The parties met again in July but talks quickly broke down.