Licensed professionals in BC Public Service issue strike notice

Another public sector strike

The provincial government is being faced with more labour disruption within its public service.

The Professional Employees Association has announced it will be issuing 72-hour strike notice at noon Wednesday.

The union represents 1,200 licensed professionals in the B.C. public service such as engineers, foresters, geoscientists, agrologists, pharmacists, psychologists, veterinarians and more.

They have been bargaining with the government since April 11 and reached an impasse on May 16 over wage proposals. Members voted 92% in favour of a strike vote in June.

“These licensed professionals rebuild bridges and roads, monitor BC’s forests and agriculture, and provide care to the province’s most vulnerable youth,” said Melissa Moroz, labour relations officer with the PEA.

“We need their expertise more than ever to help keep the province safe.”

Members say rising inflation and higher wages in the private sector have made it difficult to keep talented professionals in the BC public service.

“It’s time for the BC government to invest in the workers who provide the services that the province relies on,” said Moroz.

“These licensed professionals are taking job action because they want to see the cost of living addressed at the bargaining table.”

Deregulation in the B.C. government in the early 2000s means the the staff count of licensed professionals in the public service was cut significantly. In 20o0, there was one professional for every 2,700 residents whereas in 2020, there was one for every 4,100.

The union says increased workload and lagging compensation is leading to burnout, which has been exacerbated by the series of disasters the province has dealt with in the past year.

The union is not revealing the extent of planned job action.

The BC General Employees’ Union is in the midst of separate, limited job action targeting the distribution warehouses of the province’s liquor and cannabis branch.

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