Update 8am Friday July 13 Tom Mark
The BCGEU disputes what Gateway Casinos is saying about a wage offer in the strike by casino workers in Vernon, Kelowna, Pencticton and Kamloops.
The company says it has a wage offer on the table which the union has not responded to.
Union vice-president Doug Kinna says its the other way around.
“We have five outstanding wage proposals sitting on the table that they have not responded to. Instead they said we want a package and that takes time to put together.”
Kinna says the union won’t have that package ready until July 20th and it will cover everything that is outstanding. but if the company wants to comeback with an industry standard collective agreement offer before then, the union is happy to come back to the table.
Gateway claimed part of the Union’s demands would see a casino security officer making 23 per cent more than the starting rate for an entry level RCMP officer while other positions would see rates comparable to the earnings of trades-people.
“I’m not going to bargain exact dollars and cents in what it compares to in public. That’s something that should be done at the table. You can take the highest paid worker at the casino and up earning more than a brand new RCMP officer who are the lowest paid police officers in Canada, which is why they joined the union, and a highly paid and very-well trained in a very responsible position in a casino I think is at least equal to a trades-person. These aren’t people who just walk in off the street and are getting luxury wages.”
Kinna says the BCGEU simply wants a living wage for the workers.
“A living wage varies from community to community according to market basket measures. It’s complicated. You know it brings in rents and all sorts of things together and says this is a living wage in this community. That’s all we’re asking for. Just make an industry standard.”
He says it’s a matter of equal wage for equal work.
“You look at a lot of province-wide groups. They make the same wage where ever they are in the province if they’re doing the same work. It’s not an unreasonable request.”
Update 10 am Thursday, July 12 – Tom Mark
Gateway Casinos says it’s not the one holding up a settlement in the strike by its workers in The Okanagan and Kamloops.
The BCGEU said yesterday that Gateway wasn’t responding to its proposals and was putting up obstacles.
In a statement sent to CJIB News, Gateway spokesperson Tanya Gabara says the BCGEU announced at noon yesterday it wasn’t prepared to provide a wage proposal until July 20th.
Gabara says on Tuesday, Gateway proposed wage rate increases between 2.4% and 13% in the first year of the collective agreement in addition to 2% each year after that.
She says these wages, in addition to tips, would see Gateway employees making well over market rates.
Gabara says management negotiators waited for the remainder of the day Tuesday and all morning Wednesday for an answer, only to be told the union wasn’t ready to come back with wage proposal response.
She says on the first day of mediation this week the union maintained its proposals for wage increases of 60% plus significant increases for benefits.
Gabara says that’s clearly in excess of any reasonable rates in this market and simply not competitive.
She gives an example, saying the union proposed that a Casino Security officer would be making 23% more than the starting rate of a trained entry level RCMP officer.
“For other positions the union is asking for rates that are comparable to the earnings of trades-people, nurses and school teachers.”
The company says union also acknowledged that tips form part of an employee’s income.
“The union has calculated tips to be at least $8.75 per hour when providing examples of what to expect for strike pay. In fact, 85% of the positions within these casinos are tip earning positions. Most tips range from $8/hr to $12/hr or more depending on the location or department.”
Gateway says the strike is causing harm to the employees and to the business.
It says it is prepared to bargain any time, including weekends and holidays.
Three days of mediated talks have failed to produce a deal for Gateway Casinos and its 700 unionized workers in Vernon, Kelowna, Kamloops and Penticton.
Doug Kinna, executive vice president with the BC Government and Service Employees Union, says there was movement on both sides, but not enough.
“We think the employer is putting up some obstacles that will delay getting to a deal. They won’t respond to our proposals,” Kinna tells Beach Radio News.
He says there could be more mediated talks next week, if the company agrees to that.
“You know, where there is talk, there is hope. But our members need fair wages, and they need respect from the employer. We want the deal but it has to contain a living wage.”
Kinna did not want to get into the details of what was agreed to or not, but says the workers are staying upbeat on the picket lines, as the strike nears two weeks.
“The members are strong on the line and they’re getting lots of community support.”
The company hasn’t commented on the latest round of talks.
Beach Radio file photo