The union representing licensed government professionals working with the BC public service gave its employer 72 hours’ strike notice on Tuesday (August 17).
The Professional Employees Association (PEA) represents 1,200 licensed professionals, including agronomists, engineers, foresters, geoscientists, pharmacists, psychologists, veterinarians and more. In a press release, the PEA said it would not release any details of the planned strikes at this time.
“It’s time for the BC government to invest in the workers who provide the services the province relies on,” said Melissa Moroz, labor relations officer at the PEA. “These licensed professionals take professional action because they want to see the cost of living addressed at the bargaining table.”
Moroz pointed to rising inflation and higher salaries in the private sector as challenges to keeping licensed professionals in public office.
The PEA began negotiations with the Civil Service Agency on April 11, but the union says it quickly hit a stalemate on May 16 when wage proposals failed to meet a the rising cost of living. Union members then voted 92% in favor of a strike in June.
A strike is already underway for BC’s largest public sector union, the BC General Employees Union. The BCGEU also calls for an adjustment to the cost of living to keep pace with inflation.
If the PEA starts a work action, it will coordinate with the BCGEU.
In response to questions about the BGEU strike, Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon said he understood union members were concerned about inflation and encouraged both parties to return to the negotiating table.
“We want to make sure the agreements are fair and reasonable and meet the needs of workers, the people of British Columbia and the government’s fiscal plan so that we also have the resources to continue delivering the programs.” and services that everyone in British Columbia depends on. We remain committed to the collective bargaining process and reaching a fair and reasonable agreement.