To all members working in the BC Liquor Distribution Branch

April 17, 2012

We will stand up and fight!

As you know, after the government announced their intention to sell off the warehouses and distribution system, the BCGEU reached a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to protect members.

According to the MOA, all Retail Store & Warehouse component members whose jobs are made redundant due to the sale will receive employment offers with the new operator. Members of other components (Administrative Services; Social, Information & Health; and Environmental, Technical & Operational) whose jobs become redundant may also receive offers from the new operator. In any case, they’re eligible for permanent placement through the Article 36 joint committee.

The agreement, effective April 1, 2012, also includes the following provisions:

  • The new operator will participate in the Public Service Pension Plan;
  • Employees will remain members of the BCGEU. Collective agreement rights will carry on;
  • Employees will be encouraged to accept employment with the new operator.  Employees who accept will remain “in-service” for two years for the purpose of bidding on B.C. public service jobs. Those who decline employment will be eligible for placement within the public service;
  • Employees of the new operator will return to the public service if operations are returned to government. They will be considered to have had continuous service with the province;
  • Early retirement and voluntary departure incentives will be offered to regular employees in the warehouse and distribution system;
  • Current provisions for auxiliary employees to convert to regular status will continue to apply for current warehouse and store employees.
  • Auxiliary employees hired after April 1, 2012 will be employed on a temporary basis until the new operator assumes control, which the employer estimates will be between May 2013 and March 2014.

But this is not the only way that BCGEU plans to stand up for members and protect jobs. The union is planning a fight-back campaign to keep the warehouses public and to protect the LDB from further privatization.

BCGEU has been working in the Article 29 committee to get as much information from the government as possible on the planned sale. From those meetings we understand that the government will issue the Request For Proposals (RFP) around the end of April and then allow 60-90 days for bidding. The government will then narrow the field down to no more than three potential bidders before they choose one successful bidder. Negotiations with the successful bidder will likely conclude in the spring of 2013 followed by a transition period.

The timeline for the sale of the warehouses indicates that we likely have until November before a preferred bidder is chosen. The sale must be completed by March 2013 to book the proceeds against the 2012/13 budget. We will be doing all that we can to keep the system public, including strike duties which seek to create public awareness about the value of the public liquor distribution system.

But we’ll need your help. The most important thing to do right now is to ensure a strong strike vote with full participation of members. This will get the attention of government concerning our bargaining and the attention of the public concerning the value of our liquor distribution system as we run our campaign.

In the coming weeks your Component 5 executive will be working with the BCGEU research and campaigns department to develop a plan and start organizing actions that will require a high degree of member-engagement. You, your co-workers and your brothers and sisters across the BCGEU are the strongest resource we have in our efforts to keep the system public. It will be up to all of us to do our part and stand up and fight.

In solidarity

Darryl Walker
BCGEU president