Casino talks go nowhere

The latest round of talks between Gateway Casinos and its unionized workers has failed to reach a deal.

Four days of negotiations last week failed to produce an agreement between the company and BCGEU.

About 675 workers at Gateway casinos in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Kamloops walked off the job June 29.

In an open letter released Monday night, the company said: "When the union asked us to return to mediation, we had hoped this meant the union would come to the table with more reasonable expectations. Unfortunately, these past few days of mediation have resulted in further disappointment."

Gateway says negotiations ended after the company presented the union with a monetary package that proposed wage increases from seven to 19 per cent in the first year.

"These wages, in addition to tips of $8 to $12 per hour, would see our employees making well over market rates," the company said.

After more than five weeks without discussion, the union continues to propose wage increases of more than 24 per cent, says Gateway. 

"If the union was really serious about bargaining and bringing an end to the strike, then they would have come prepared with a serious monetary package. A 24 per cent increase in wages in the first year is clearly in excess of any reasonable wage increase and simply not competitive for any business, including ours."

In a sign the talks did not go well, the company said it was "very disappointed" and the union "seemed more interested in maligning our business at every opportunity than having serious discussions."

Staff have now been on strike for more than 10 weeks. 

Meanwhile, the casinos remain open behind picket lines, under reduced hours.

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