In an announcement last Wednesday, the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) said a tentative three-year agreement has been reached with the B.C. Public Service Agency (PSA).
The agreement, yet to be ratified by workers, is retroactive to April 1, 2022, and ends March 31, 2025.
It took over seven months of failed bargaining and a two-week strike to bring both sides to the table and work out a deal over a nine-day period.
“Bargaining is never easy and this has been a long and challenging round,” said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU and chair of the bargaining committee.
Workers will see an increase of 25 cents per hour plus a 3.24 percent pay raise in the first year, an increase of 5.5 percent to 6.75 percent tied to the rate of inflation in year two and in the third year a two to three percent increase in pay also tied to the rate of inflation.
Other highlights include a one-time economic subsidy payment for Liquor distribution branch employees. The payment is equivalent to $4 per hour for a 16-week period retroactive to April 1. This includes regular and auxiliary employees.
Comments on social media suggest not all members are in favour of the deal but Smith said that “after almost two weeks of job action and nine consecutive days at the table, enough progress was made that the committee decided it was time to let our members see what’s on offer and have their say.”
In a media release on the same day, the Ministry of Finance said that details of the agreement will be released once the ratification process is complete for union workers and employers.
A number of other public service worker agreements expired province-wide this year with the Hospital Employees’ Union reaching an agreement with the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) just prior to the BCGEU announcement. A wage increase tied to inflation plus adopting measures to address worker burnout and staff shortages form the core of the agreement.
Also at the bargaining table is the BC Teacher’s Federation whose collective agreement expired in June of this year. The union and BC Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA) have been bargaining since March. An update on the BCPSEA website says that they are considering a counter-proposal received from the BCTF and the two sides will be meeting again in late September.