Striking BCGEU workers are expected to set up a picket line outside Playtime Casino in Kelowna today. Photo: Capital News files

Gateway’s Okanagan casino workers going on strike

BCGEU employees set to walk off job today at 3:01 p.m.

Unionized Gateway Casinos workers in Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton intend to walk off the job today at 3:01 p.m.

More than 675 Gateway workers affiliated with the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union will set up picket lines in front of the Cascades Kamloops, Cascades Penticton, Playtime Kelowna and Lake City Vernon casinos after mediation talks broke down earlier this week.

BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, guest services and maintenance.

“Our members are asking for living wages that would bring them in-line with the industry standard for casino workers in B.C.,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

“These workers are the heart of their casinos. Gateway is a successful company in a highly profitable industry—they can afford to pay their staff what they are worth.”

In a vote held from June 4 to 6, more than 88 per cent of Gateway staff in all four Okanagan casinos came out and voted 93.1 per cent in favour of taking strike action.

On Monday, June 25, the union delivered the required 72-hours-notice of strike action.

Related: Gateway Casinos “frustrated and disappointed” about strike vote

Gateway’s Okanagan staff have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since the last one expired in September 2017.

Negotiations broke off in May after the employer refused to offer wages and benefits that are industry standard at comparable casinos.

Both parties met for a few days of mediated talks over the past two weeks but could not reach an agreement on key monetary issues.

“The wages Gateway are offering won’t even keep ahead of the planned minimum wage increases,” Smith said.

“Our members will be standing strong on the picket lines until they get a fair offer from the company.”

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