Strike finally ends at four BC Canada Casinos in Okanagan area.
After 19 excruciatingly long weeks, the strike at British Columbia’s Okanagan casinos is finally over. More than 700 employees will be able to return to work this week; confident that their wages and benefits will be worth the time and effort they spend providing individual services for the province’s interior gambling properties.
Nearly five months after employees walked off the job, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment and representatives of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), finally came to an agreement. Both groups were happy with the minutiae of the new contract. It promises higher wages and better benefits for employees of the four casinos in BC, Canada.
Following last week’s preliminary approval, employees were given a few days to look over the contract; after which they would all vote yay or nay. The majority are acquiescing to the new deal, but not by much. The contract is just barely skidding into ratification with 50.7% of the votes.
It’s finally going to get back to business as usual for the properties, which include:
Cascades Casino Kamloops
Cascades Casino Penticton
Lake City Casino Vernon
Playtime Casino Kelowna
New Contract for Employees of BC Canada Casinos
The exact details of the four-year agreement were not released last week, pending approval of union employees. Now that the ink has dried on the document, we know a little more about it. Staff members will be receiving an average wage increase of 23.5% over the life of the contract.
That was one of the most important details for striking employees. They were disgruntled by the fact that workers at other Gateway Casinos were receiving better wages. They not only demanded higher wages, but wages that would continue float above minimum wage in the coming years.
Last year, the government set into motion a plan to raise the minimum wage in BC each year for at least four consecutive years. On June 1, 2018, it was increased from $11.35/hr to $12.35/hr. On June 1, 2019, it will rise again to $13.85/hr; increasing again to $14.60/hr in 2020, and to $15.20/hr in 2021.
Gateway’s original offer to increase employee wages would have put them in a good position on day one. They would then be subject to earning minimum wage over much of the contract. The time-release wage increases will keep them affably ahead of minimum wage throughout the next 4 years.
A representative of Gateway Casinos told Global News in a statement that the contract “includes immediate wage increases for every employee and a robust compensation package over the term of the agreement that is accompanied by a wide array of non-monetary benefits.”
Back to Business for Okanagan Casinos in BC Canada
Throughout the 19-week strike, Gateway refused to let the labour disruption put an end to business operations. All four Okanagan casinos remained open, although the hours of operation and availability of some services were limited. Now, the company is just as happy as anyone to get back to normal.
“We know the past few months have been challenging for all involved, and we thank our customers for their patience and loyalty throughout the labour disruption,” said Gateway. “We now turn our full attention back to our business and are committed to a smooth return to regular business over the coming weeks.”
BCGEU President Stephanie Smith is expressing similar sentiments. 700+ employees are no-doubt ecstatic to be returning to work this week. She commended their “solidarity and courage” over the last 19 weeks of picketing.
“Our members are going back to work, which is great news,” says Smith. “But the ratification vote was close, which means there is more work to be done in all four of these workplaces. That work starts as soon as the picket lines come down.”
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