LIQUOR LOSS The Invermere liquor store was one of several provincial government establishments shut down in the Columbia Valley September 5th by striking workers from the British Columbia Government Employees Union. Pictured: a liquor store worker, who refused to be named, shows her support for the union. Photo by Kristian Rasmussen

By Pioneer Staff

Local members of the British Columbia Government Employees Union (BCGEU) staged a one-day strike Wednesday, September 5th, along with 27,000 of their fellow union members across B.C. to protest for higher wages over the next two years. The union is seeking an increase of 3.5 per cent for members within the first year of the collective bargaining contract and a cost of living wage increase within the second year. The union rejected the provincial governments offer of a wage increase of 2 per cent in the first year and a cost of living increase of 1.5 per cent in the second.

Our members are frontline public service workers, said Evan Stewart, BCGEU communications officer.

These members havent had a wage increase since April 2009. The offer from the government would see our workers fall behind the rate of inflation alone.

The BCGEU brought a proposal to the B.C. government to offset the costs of the wage increase by opening government liquor stores on Sundays and using deputy sheriffs for traffic enforcement, Mr. Stewart added.

We came to the table with revenue proposals to fund the wage increases to create revenue for other government services and they were both rejected out of hand.

The B.C. provincial government is not budging on their position.

What we have been saying is that the current economic and fiscal situation is within a challenging time in the global economy and that is having its effect on British Columbia, said Jamie Edwardson, Ministry of Finance communications director. The government and the finance minister have said we are not prepared to ask taxpayers to put more money on the table for this.