Three-year agreement for thousands of B.C. government workers

VICTORIA — Thousands of British Columbia public service workers have ratified a three-year contract agreement giving them an annual two per cent wage increase.

The agreement covers workers who provide social, environmental and public safety services, as well as Liquor Distribution Branch employees and some of those who work at the B.C. Pension Corp.

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The deal covers 26,500 workers and includes additional funds to help staffing shortages for child-protection workers, deputy sheriffs and corrections officers.

The government says in a news release that the contract also improves hiring and the process of classification so that the public service can respond to urgent government needs like accessible child care and affordable housing.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union says the contract was ratified by 62.7 per cent of those members who voted.

Union president Stephanie Smith says after 16 years of staff cuts and wage restraint, there is a lot of pent-up demand for positive change from the membership.

"We knew that we wouldn't make up all the lost ground in one round of bargaining, but this agreement will provide a good foundation for us to build on."

The latest contract means 91,000 public sector employees are covered by tentative or ratified agreements reached under the B.C. government's sustainable management negotiating mandate.

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