Union walkout doesn't faze Victoria 0
Thousands of government workers set up picket lines Wednesday in an "all-out" move described by their union president as a last resort.
British Columbia Government and Services Employees Union members in Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna and seven other municipalities - estimated by the union to be 60% of the government's workforce - walked out in the largest job action since bargaining talks broke off in March.
"Except for essential services, every one of our members will be behind picket lines," said BCGEU president Darryl Walker. "This is the maximum we can take out of the public sector. This is the most we can do.
The union, which represents about 27,000 public sector workers in the province, is asking for a two-year deal with a 3.5% wage increase the first year and a cost of living increase in the second.
The last government offer was for 3.5% over two years.
Crown legal assistant Joanne Pegusch was one of about 150 workers who walked out of government offices in the 800-block Hornby Street Wednesday morning.
The office includes Crown counsel, the B.C. Film Commission, Ministry of Children and Family Development and Ministry of Agriculture employees.
Pegusch said prosecutors wouldn't be able to take cases to court without workers such as herself.
"What will happen if they let us fall further and further behind is people will be leaving," she said. "I don't know how they're going to survive when they're paying people a newcomer's wage."
Premier Christy Clark said the government wouldn't budge.
"I'm not going back to taxpayers for more money in order to give government workers a raise. I'm simply not going to do it," she said in Victoria.
"We have to balance the budget."