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Management from Gateway Casinos and Entertainment has written another open letter to residents in the four communities where the company is engaged in a prolonged labour dispute with close to 700 unionized casino workers in Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops.
After four days of mediated talks over the Labour Day weekend, talks have again broken off between Gateway management and the negotiating team for the British Columbia Government Employees’ Union BCGEU.
The unionized employees at Gateway casinos in the four communities have been on the picket line since June 29.
The recent talks were the first time the two sides had returned to the bargaining table in several weeks.
The union insists the strike will not end until the workers are guaranteed a “living wage”, insisting a large percentage of their employees work for minimum wage or slightly above.
Gateway management said the union’s contract demands have been unreasonable since the strike began and they were unwilling to pay wages higher than what other industry workers make in other communities where Gateway owns casinos.
“We are writing to update the community on the outcome of the most recent round of talks between Gateway and the BCGEU,” said the open letter released Monday evening. “When the union asked us to return to mediation, we had hoped this meant the union would come to the table with more reasonable expectations, unfortunately, these past few days of mediation have resulted in further disappointment.
“Negotiations ended after we presented the union with a monetary package that had proposed wage increases that would have every employee receiving an increase from 7% to as much as 19% in the first year alone.
“These wages, in addition to tips of $8 to $12 per hour, would see our employees making well over market rates. Our proposal is well above other recent settlements in British Columbia both by government and private companies.
“Yet, after more than five weeks without discussion, the union continues to propose wage increases of more than 24%. Their wage proposals remain above the wages of even the largest casinos operating 24/7 in Metro Vancouver.
“If the union was really serious about bargaining and bringing an end to the strike then they would have come prepared with a serious monetary package. A 24% increase in wages in the first year is clearly in excess of any reasonable wage increase and simply not competitive for any business, including ours.
“We are very disappointed that we are again at the end of a mediation session without a tentative collective agreement. The union seemed more interested in maligning our business at every opportunity than having serious discussions at the bargaining table to get a deal and get employees back to work.
“Over 600 of our employees have now been on strike for more than 10 weeks – which is causing harm to them and the business. Everyone is losing, except for the union leadership who continue to get paid regularly, and they are the ones who continue to stall the process.
“In the meantime, our operations in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Kamloops remain open for business and we hope our customers will visit us soon.”
NowMedia will update this story once they get response from the union.
For more information on Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, click here.
For more information on the BCGEU, click here.