Casino strike: union, Gateway back to the bargaining table after long weekend

The labour dispute began on June 29, when workers began walking the picket line

New dates for mediated talks between the BC Government Employees’ Union and Gateway Casinos are scheduled to take place after the Labour Day long weekend.

The two sides are expected to meet for the entirety of the week following Labour Day, from Tuesday through Friday, BCGEU spokeswoman Erin Sikora told KTW via email.

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The renewed talks will be the first in weeks since negotiations broke off in late July between the company and the union, which represents about 675 employees at casinos in Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon.

Unionized employees at all four casinos, including some 200 workers at Cascades Casino in Kamloops, have been on strike since June 29. Workers have walked the picket line for the past nine weeks in rotating shifts outside the local casino, the parking lot of which has sported few vehicles.

Gateway has not commented on the state of business at the Aberdeen casino. Some customers have been seen crossing the picket line over the last two months and Chances Gaming Centre on the North Shore has reportedly seen an uptick in visitors.

The last contract expired on Sept. 30, 2017.

The union and the company have been far apart on wages — the main stumbling block in negotiations to date.

The BCGEU has indicated it is asking for wage increases that average about 62 per cent for its largely minimum wage-earning workforce, while Gateway has offered pay increases that range between 2.4 per cent and 13 per cent in the first year of the collective agreement, in addition to two per cent each year after that.

The renewed talks come a couple of weeks after union members marched outside B.C. Lottery Corporation headquarters in Kamloops, demanding the regulatory body investigate Gateway for alleged discrepancies in policy compliance by management during the strike.

BCLC has said it is reviewing the allegations.

Gateway spokeswoman Tanya Gabara refused to comment to the media regarding the upcoming negotiations.

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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