BC Place employees issue strike notice as Grey Cup nears

Stadium management says they've agreed to mediator’s recommendations

Canada’s Grey Cup continues to be in jeopardy as the union representing employees at Vancouver’s BC Place – the venue hosting this year’s Canadian Football League championship game – has issued a 72-hour strike notice. Workers could walk off the job as early as Oct. 21.

The 600 B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) Local 1703 members are demanding building management provide better job security or risk putting the Nov. 27 football final in danger of being cancelled.

“The BCGEU and the employer have made several attempts to reach a tentative agreement. But, even with the assistance of a mediator, we have failed to do so,” the union says in a statement on its website. “We are concerned about contracting out and a reduction of work hours.”

B.C. Pavilion Corporation (PAVCO), the management company behind BC Place, says they have already agreed to many union demands.

"PAVCO has also agreed to accept the mediator's recommendations in full," a statement by the management company reads, although details of those recommendations have not been provided. "Despite this setback, PAVCO remains optimistic that further progress will be made."

PAVCO adds that if a strike occurs, events at BC Place will have to be moved or cancelled.

The security, maintenance, hosting and skilled-trade workers voted 89 per cent in favour of a strike mandate after talks broke down with PAVCO in September 2011.

The previous collective agreement expired in May 2011. BCGEU also represents food workers at BC Place, but those workers are covered under a separate collective agreement that expired earlier this year, as well. Negotiations with those workers are scheduled to resume in December.

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