B.C. public sector professionals vote to strike

Union concerned with decline in number of licensed professionals
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 05/15/2012

More than 1,200 licensed professionals working for British Columbia’s ministries of Forests and Natural Resources, Transportation, and Environment have voted 92 per cent in favour of a strike mandate, according to the Professional Employees Association (PEA).

One of the biggest concerns for the engineers, foresters, legal services lawyers and health-science professionals is the continued decline of the number of licensed professionals in B.C.'s public service. The total number has dropped by 10 per cent over the past two years.

"We want to ensure that the B.C. public service has a sustainable number of licensed professionals to manage B.C.'s resources,” said PEA executive director Scott McCannell. “Our members are seeking to maintain professional values and end a move to de-professionalize the public service, as well as renewal of recruitment and retention allowances and compensation that keeps up with inflation.”

The parties reached an impasse on April 3 after 15 days of bargaining over three months. Like most of the province’s 300,000 civil servants, their previous collective agreement expired March 31.

Wages are an issue at the bargaining table for all B.C. civil servants and employees of government-funded organizations. They have been operating under a three-year wage freeze.

The government has said new contracts can contain wage increases, but only through “co-operative gains.” That is, if savings or increased revenue can be found somewhere else within the sector, wages can go up.

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