BC Casinos Strikes May Soon be Resolved

By Ben Hamill - November 08 2018

BC Casinos Strikes May Soon be Resolved

Gateway Casinos’ union members have been engaged in a strike for four months now – but this could soon come to an end thanks to a new development. A tentative deal has now been reached between the local gambling operator and the British Columbia Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU), the workers’ union has revealed in a brief email.

A Gateway spokesperson has also confirmed that the two parties at loggerheads have managed to reach an initial agreement in Thompson Okanagan, although no further comments will be made about the situation until members of the BCGEU have cast their votes.

Should the union members vote in favour of the current agreement, over 700 strikers will return to work. The casino operator also detailed that it is currently reviewing the terms of the provisional agreement, and is now expecting additional details about the deal’s ratification to be sent to it by the union soon.

Deal Awaiting Picketers’ Votes

BGCEU president Stephanie Smith used the workers’ union’s official Twitter account to announce the tentative deal. Gateway has also taken to social media to compliment the union’s bargaining committee for its efforts in the challenging process.

According to information revealed by the union, more details on the agreement will be revealed to the public over the next week at the hearings which have been set up to allow workers to ratify the deal. The BCGEU has also revealed that employees will stay on the picket lines until a final decision has been made on the agreement.

The long-standing casino strike started on July 1, 2018, when staff at four Okanagan Casinos (Cascades Kamloops, Cascades Penticton, Playtime Kelowna and Lace City Vernon) left their desks and demanded that Gateway Casinos up their wages to match the region’s ‘living wages’. Around 675 workers became embroiled in the strike, which has continued to rage on for over four months since.

Gateway Changes its Tune on Wages

Initially, Gateway said that the union had made wage increase demands that it deemed to be unreasonable. At the time, the operator also noted that these demands would only hold up the process of the two arguing parties finding a resolution to their dispute.

The casino workers’ strike began at a time when the British Columbia gambling industry was also facing heavy criticism for local authorities. This followed Peter German’s independent report that evidenced the fact that the gaming venues had been used as hotspots for criminals to launder millions in dirty money.

The start of the strike also coincided with another picketing effort at Coquitlam’s Hard Rock Casino. The Hard Rock strike, however, was brought to a close later in July after a deal was struck between the BGCEU and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation.

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