The union representing licensed government professionals working with the B.C. public service delivered a 72-hour strike notice to its employer on Wednesday (Aug. 17).
The Professional Employees Association (PEA) represents 1,200 licensed professionals including agrologists, engineers, foresters, geoscientists, pharmacists, psychologists, veterinarians and more. In a news release, the PEA said it would not be releasing any details of planned strike action at this time.
“It’s time for the BC government to invest in the workers who provide the services that the province relies on,” said Melissa Moroz, labour relations officer with the PEA. “These licensed professionals are taking job action because they want to see the cost of living addressed at the bargaining table.”
Moroz pointed to rising inflation and higher wages in the private sector as challenges to keeping licensed professionals in the public service.
The PEA entered negotiations with the Public Service Agency on April 11, but the union says it quickly reached impasse on May 16 when wage proposals failed to address the rising cost of living. Union members then voted 92 per cent in favour of a strike in June.
Strike action is already underway for B.C.’s largest public-sector union, the B.C. General Employees Union. The BCGEU is also calling for a cost of living adjustment to keep pace with inflation.
If the PEA begins job action, it will coordinate with the BCGEU.
In response to questions about the BGEU strike, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, Ravi Kahlon said he understands union members are concerned with inflation and encouraged both sides to return to the bargaining table.
“We want to ensure that agreements are fair and reasonable, and support the needs of workers, the people of British Columbia and the government’s fiscal plan so that we also have the resources to keep delivering the programs and services that everyone in B.C. depends on. We remain committed to the collective bargaining process and to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement.”