Update by Pete Mcintyre
The union representing striking casino workers in the Okanagan and Kamloops says its wage demands are not unreasonable.
Gateway Casinos has said the BCGEU is calling for wage hikes of more than 24 percent while the company is offering increases of 7 to 19 per cent in the first year.
BCGEU president Stephanie Smith says that’s misleading.
“The focus on percentages is, in my viewing, incredibly distracting. What they don`t tell you is that their percentage offers still keep our members working in the casinos hovering around minimum wage and that is simply just not good enough.”
Meanwhile, Smith is laughing off suggestions the union leaders are stalling the process in trying to reach a deal with Gateway Casinos.
The company has said everyone is losing due to the strike, except for the union leadership who continue to get paid regularly.
Stephanie Smith says that makes no sense.
“I’m sorry. That is, in my view, completely laughable. In fact, our union has been fully supportive of our members on the line.”
Smith says some of the strikers are disappointed there is still no deal in the 10 week old dispute.
“We had high hopes over these four days. We thought we were starting to see some movement on the side of the employer but uit turned out that that wasn’t really the case. But generally speaking. I would say the mood is really, really good.”
She is not aware of any of their members quitting their jobs out of frustration with the process.
Smith says they’re willing to resume talks at any time, but she’s not aware of anything scheduled.
Tanya Gabara from Gateway says the strike has had a big impact on their customer’s experience, although she wouldn’t say how much business has been impacted.
She says arbitration is not being considered at this time.
Casino workers in the Okanagan and Kamloops remain on the picket lines after the latest attempt at mediation failed.
Negotiators for Gateway Casinos and the BCGEU met for four days last week and and left still deadlocked on wages.
Gateway says it presented an offer of wage increases that would have every employee receiving an increase from 7% to as much as 19% in the first year alone.
It says in addition to tips of $8 to $12 per hour, that would see the employees making well over market rates with a proposal well above other recent settlements in British Columbia both by government and private companies
But the company says the union continues to propose wage increases of more than 24%, which Gateway says is above the wages of even the largest casinos operating 24/7 in Metro Vancouver.
Gateway says that kind of an increase in the first year is clearly in excess of any reasonable wage increase and simply not competitive for any business.
It says when the union asked for a return to mediation it had hoped this meant the union would come to the table with more reasonable expectations.
Gateway says the union seemed more interested in maligning the business at every opportunity than having serious discussions at the bargaining table to get a deal and get employees back to work.
The strike has now gone on for m ore than 10 weeks, which the company says is causing harm to the workers and the business.
Gateway says everyone is losing except for the union leadership who continue to get paid regularly, and they are the ones who continue to stall the process.
CJIB has reached out to the BCGEU for a response.