Four-year deal ends strike

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith says there is still more work to be done after striking casino workers narrowly accepted terms of a new contract with Gateway Casinos in the Southern Interior.

After 19 weeks on the picket lines, nearly 700 employees in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Kamloops voted 50.7 per cent in favour of accepting the four-year contract.

Only 511 members voted to accept the tentative agreement reached last week. The vote was 259-252.

“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.”

Employees are expected to begin heading back to work over the weekend.

The new contract gives workers an average 23.5 per cent wage increase over the life of the four-year deal. It also includes improved benefits, particularly for part-time workers.

The union members walked off the job June 29.

In a statement, company officials say they are pleased with the outcome of the vote, and thank the bargaining committees on both sides, who "worked tirelessly to design an agreement that would fairly reward our employees while remaining reasonable for the businesses we operate in these communities."

"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. We now turn our full attention back to our business and are committed to a smooth return to regular business over the coming weeks."

Castanet has learned the agreement also includes provisions by both sides to drop legal and other actions pertaining to the strike.

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