Corrections workers joined the picket line outside the provincial youth prison in Burnaby on Wednesday.
"We're looking for a reasonable contract, and we're looking to keep ourselves up with the cost of inflation. We're looking for a fair and equitable pay raise," said Brandon Thistle, a corrections officer represented by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, whose contract negotiations with the provincial government have gone sideways. "We haven't had a raise in six years. Our talks went off a month and a half ago. The job action is a move in hopes of returning to the bargaining," Thistle said.
According to Thistle, about 100 people showed up at the picket line throughout the day. Because of security concerns, the corrections officers were subject to an essential service order, so those who joined the picket did so on their day off. They walked alongside striking court clerks and sheriffs during a oneday government workers' strike across B.C.
In all, an estimated 27,000 BCGEU workers walked off the job Wednesday. They were joined by two other unions: the Professional Employees Association and the Canadian Office & Professional Employees Union Local 378, which represents ICBC workers.
The BCGEU has not had a wage increase in the past two years and is now seeking a 3.5 per cent increase plus a cost of living allowance. The other two unions also want wage increases.
Thistle, who spent the day on the picket line after a graveyard shift at the prison, is hoping the government will return to the bargaining table.
"And let's hope we go to mediation on a fair contract," he said.