THE bargaining committee representing 33,000 BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) members in 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 BCGEU said on Monday that 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.”
The BCGEU said that 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.
It added: “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. 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.
For more information on BCGEU bargaining, visit www.bargainingbc.ca