UPDATE: BCGEU stands down job action as a sign of good faith

BCGEU union members take to the picket line at the BC Liquor Distribution Branch’s Delta distribution centre on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. (James Smith/North Delta Reporter)BCGEU union members take to the picket line at the BC Liquor Distribution Branch’s Delta distribution centre on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. (James Smith/North Delta Reporter)
The 108 Supermarket liquor section of the store with empty spaces on the shelf. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)The 108 Supermarket liquor section of the store with empty spaces on the shelf. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
The 108 Supermarket section of chilled refreshment beverages. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)The 108 Supermarket section of chilled refreshment beverages. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
The 108 Supermarket cooler section. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)The 108 Supermarket cooler section. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

UPDATE: After returning to the bargaining table last Thursday, the BCGEU’s Public Service Bargaining Committee is standing down job action at BC Public Service worksites as a sign of good faith.

In a media release, the BCGEU said “significant progress” has been made since talks resumed.

“The two sides will continue to meet throughout the week, hoping to finalize a tentative agreement.”

The ban on overtime has ended effective immediately. Plans to stand down picket lines at BC Liquor Distribution Branch locations are underway.

The communication blackout remains in place at this time.

Strike action by the BC Government Employees Union is hurting small businesses in B.C. and their employees.

Shelan Tessare, manager of the 108 Supermarket said there are empty spaces on the shelves due to her last order not being delivered.

“It’s going to have a huge impact,” she said, adding that half their daily sales are from liquor products. ‘It’s going to be a big loss.

In addition to the loss in sales, Tessare is looking at reducing employee hours.

Without the need to stock shelves and other tasks that go along with normal liquor sales, she does not need as many staff each day.

“I sure hope they come to an agreement quickly,” she said.

Job action escalated Monday (Aug. 22) with the union banning non-emergency overtime effective immediately for BCGEU members working in B.C. public service. The ban does not apply to members employed in BC Wildfire Service for the duration of the current wildfire season.

It has been two weeks since Harmeet Sandhu, owner of Lac La Hache RaceTrac Gas and Convenience Store, received a liquor shipment. While he has not noticed an increase in beer or wine sales, it could happen as the shelves empty.

His customers know about the strike he said. “There was a bit of panic buying at the start.”

Sandhu is not concerned about reducing employee hours as the grocery side of the business is busy.

In an emailed response, communications and stakeholder relations for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) said, “We want to support the hospitality industry, particularly smaller businesses, and retail customers while the LDB’s distribution centres continue to be impacted by BCGEU job action.”

The statement goes over the quantity limits introduced in B.C. liquor stores in an attempt to “ensure equal access to product for all customers during the BCGEU job action.”

The 108 Resort’s Kelsey Cleave said they are lucky the strike came near the end of the summer wedding season. Events have not been affected at this point due to the ongoing strike action.

“We should be fine,” she said. “If there are some things we couldn’t find, we could get someone to bring them from Prince George.”

If the strike continues into September there is a possibility events such as the Men’s Cariboo Open Sept. 2 to 5 could present an issue, Cleave said.

Talks resumed between the BCGEU and the Public Service Agency (PSA) on Aug. 25 but no details have been provided at this time.