The B.C. General Employees Union is asking its members to refuse all non-emergency overtime work, in its latest escalation of job action.
In a Monday (Aug. 22) announcement, the union representing 33,000 public service workers said it’s hoping to highlight just how under-staffed workplaces are when employees aren’t working above their regular hours.
“B.C.’s public service has been reliant on our members’ overtime for far too long and dealing with the systemic issues behind that reliance is part of what we’re trying to achieve in this round of bargaining,” Stephanie Smith, BCGEU’s president and chair of the union’s public service bargaining committee, said.
Other systemic issues the union says it wants to draw attention to are high turnover and excessive workloads.
“…reliance on overtime is unsustainable and dangerous, leading to burnout, increased risk to physical and psychological safety of workers and erosion of the services people rely on,” BCGEU’s statement reads.
The ban won’t include emergency work and won’t apply to BC Wildfire Service employees while the wildfire season continues.
The latest collective agreement between BCGEU and the Public Service Agency expired on April 1. Negotiations for a new agreement began back in February, but reached an impasse on April 6, leading 95 per cent of members to vote for job action on June 22.
The overtime ban comes just over a week after the union first began job action, with a series of ongoing strikes at key liquor distribution warehouses in Delta, Kamloops, Richmond and Victoria. As a result, as of Aug. 19 government-owned BC Liquor Stores have been instructed to limit the amount of alcohol customers can purchase.
BCGEU says it plans to continue its actions until the government returns to the bargaining table with what the union considers a fair deal.