Due to constraints on the employer’s team we only met for two days this past week, after a healthy break for some time with family and friends.
We continue to be significantly far apart on the overriding issue which is money of course. We have been asking for a 4.5% increase to all bargaining unit wage grids while asking that SA’s and individuals receiving Temporary Market Adjustments (TMA) be held at their current pay rate until our wage proposals catch up to their current pay levels.
The employer’s only tabled wage offer from months ago is on a sliding scale that averages only 1.5% and would only be effective April 1st of 2012. Our two years of zero and zero you may recall ended December 31st so we are adamant that wage increases be retroactive to the start of our Collective Agreement.

While we have presented evidence that all base wages in the salary grids are below market wages, their sliding scale offer ranges from as low as a 1% wage increase for most appraisal assistants and accounting clerks for example. Appraiser I’s are only being offered 1.5% and Appraiser II’s 1.75%. The cost of living in 2011 was 2.4%!! Not only did we lose a lot of purchasing power over the two years of zeros, we continue to fall behind and this is well documented by competitive jobs at all levels of our organization.

By offering higher wage increases to some employees higher up in the pay grid they are seeking to divide and conquer and entrench an already inequitable pay scale. We firmly believe that the concept for equal pay for equal work of equal value must return and that the base wage levels be increased for all employees.

Meals and Mileage 
We continue to be apart also on the issue of payment for meals and mileage, both in the rates as well as the timing. The Employer professes that it would be difficult to calculate a retroactive amount so is only willing to offer a small increase in the rates and only after our contract is ratified. The Union again is adamant that our rates be retroactive to January 1, 2012 otherwise we are confirming our losses to the cost of living. It is simply a part of doing business to calculate retro cheques after the conclusion of a Collective Agreement; it’s been done before and it can be done again!

Term of Contract
Despite Finance Minister Kevin Falcon recently saying that a one year contract term would be considered, the employer maintains that their marching order from the government is for a two year contract.

I will be drafting a letter to send directly to each bargaining unit member within the next couple of weeks so that everyone is aware of our position at the table. We want to make sure that every co-worker understands the gravity of the situation and the strong likelihood that we will be taking a strike vote in early September. With conflicting schedules we have no more bargaining dates scheduled until October so the state of bargaining will be an overriding theme during this year’s AGM at the end of September.

Please continue to support the BCGEU in their rotating job action...they are fighting our fight!

In solidarity,
Kevin McPhail

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