Approximately 700 Okanagan casino workers left their jobs in protest. The employees belong to four Okanagan casinos owned by Gateway Casinos. The strike action comes after failed mediated talks between Gateway Casino and the B.C Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU).
Strike Action on Canada Day Weekend
Workers walked off the Gateway’s Okanagan casinos on Friday, 29th June 2018 at 3 pm. Workers belong to the BCGEU. The employees work at Cascades Kamloops and Cascades Penticton, as well as Lake City Vernon and Playtime Kelowna.
The Union had sent out a notice. BCGEU gave the casinos 72-hours to reach an agreement, or they would walk. The walk-off took place on the Canada day weekend. All the staff had voted before the strike, 93% of the workers voted in favour of the strike earlier in June.
Wage Disputes the Cause of the Okanagan Casinos Strike
Before the strike, both BCGEU and Gateway Casinos met to negotiate salaries. The meeting was fruitless as the two parties could not agree on wage issues. Employees and the union expect a wage increase of 60% or more. Workers feel they are not earning a living wage.
A group called The Living Wage for Families has done some research. The group concluded that a family needs an hourly wage rate of $17.31. The family in question would consist of two full-time working adults and two children.
Gateway Casinos are offering less than the planned minimum wage increases. The union claims the casinos are highly profitable and can meet worker wage demands.
B.C Casino Industry Woes
The Gateway Strikes come just one month after the Hard Rock Coquitlam strike. Employees at the Hard Rock reached a tentative deal after six weeks. During the strike, workers were not earning a salary. The agreement was reached after the BCGEU called on the government to intervene.
Two weeks later, the B.C casino industry was rocked by the auditor generals report. The report found money laundering rings operating within B.C casinos.
The future of Gateway Casinos
We can only speculate what the future entails for Gateway Casinos. At the moment the strike action will hit the casinos pockets hard. The casinos will have to comply with the new regulations once they are approved.
The casinos currently operate on skeleton staff. Gateway Casinos claims the unions 60% wage increase expectation is unreasonable. The casinos would like employees to return to work. During working hours mediation takes place. The casinos have proposed such a process take place over two weeks.