Skip to content

City workers serve strike notice

Workers rejected new contract that offered 7% in wage increases over three years

City workers in Fort St. John will hit the picket lines first thing Monday morning after serving the city with a 72-hour strike notice.

Public works and recreational services will be most impacted by the strike.

The city, along with the BC Government Employees' Union, have agreed to a list of essential services, the city's human resources director Rashid Hassan confirmed.

Essential services includes support staff for RCMP and firefighting emergency services. Some water and wastewater treatment positions will also continue, along with some IT jobs and cemetery services. Garbage collection will not be impacted.

However, Hassan noted recreational and administrative staff, along with some public works crews are not considered essential.

"(They) can stop working, and those services will be impacted," said Hassan, noting this includes road and maintenance crews and grounds staff.

In July, city workers rejected a new contract deal that offered a seven per cent wage hike over three years, along with increases in some employee benefits.

Workers had been without a contract since the end of December 2014. The BCGEU represents 183 of the city's 234 employees.

Both the city and BCGEU have admitted there were zero concessions as part of the new deal. In June, workers voted in favour of a strike if an agreement was not reached.

In a statement, Mayor Lori Ackerman said the city put values its employees and put forward a fair and reasonable offer in negotiations.

"…our employees remain among the best-compensated in the province of British Columbia," she said.

"Along with wage increases, we are committed to ensuring that our employees go to work in a safe and secure environment, that they are provided with training and development opportunities, and that their families are supported by an excellent benefits program."

Reached by phone today, Ackerman said the city will provide information to residents it as it can. 

"It's difficult, but it's a process we have to respect," she said in a phone interview.

"We'll do everything we can to keep the operations of the city as fluid as possible.

Added Hassan: "As we progress every morning, we will be communicating with the media and public about which facilities are affected on that day."

The BCGEU could not be immediately reached for comment.

Hassan said a labour mediator remains on standby.

"I'm not disappointed at all," he said.

"This is the workers right to strike. We appreciate whatever decision they made, and will respectfully do our business as much as we can provide to our community."