B.C. housing department inks 2 new tentative deals

Economic mandate allows for profit sharing if GDP growth exceeds forecasts

British Columbia’s housing department has reached tentative agreements with two employee factions.

On Aug. 13, the finance ministry announced the new contracts reached with the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), which cover approximately 362 employees under the administrative and clerical division, and approximately 148 service and maintenance workers. The housing management commission is a Crown corporation that provides rental assistance and subsidized housing for low income and disabled families.

While details of the agreements are expected following the ratification vote, finance minister Michael de Jong said they were reached under the province’s Economic Stability Mandate, which lets public sector staffers negotiate long-term agreements within a fixed fiscal envelopes. As a result, settlements are often unique and reflect such priorities as labour stability and affordable services.

“These agreements show that when parties come to the bargaining table with reasonable expectations, it is possible to reach a deal that benefits employees and employers, and is affordable for taxpayers,” de Jong said.

The Economic Stability Mandate, introduced earlier this year, applies to public sector employers whose collective agreements expired Dec. 31, 2013. Under the mandate, if the province’s GDP growth exceeds forecasts over the term of the agreement, the agreement allows for sharing of some of those benefits with workers. That means employees would receive a conditional, incremental wage increase equal to hald of any percentage-point gain in GDP growth, above what was forecasted in the budget delivered in February.

“We are making steady progress towards labour stability as more agreements continue to be reached and ratified in multiple sectors,” de Jong added. “More than half of all unionized public sector employees are now covered by ratified or tentative agreements, negotiated under the Economic Stability Mandate.”

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