The operator of the four Okanagan casinos which employees are currently on strike, Gateway Casinos, shared that its employees are taking too long to make their proposals in the negotiations between workers and employers. The company also warned that further delays of the process could result in a more serious disruption such as the one which happened at the Coquitlam-located Hard Rock Casino.
Currently, the British Columbia Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) represents the casino workers at the Okanagan venues, as well as the employees at the Hard Rock Casino at the bargaining table with the gambling operator.
As previously revealed by Casino Reports, approximately 400 employees of the Hard Rock Casino are being on strike for about two months, while the strike of 700 casino workers in the Okanagan area has been going on since Canada Day weekend.
According to media reports, only after three days into mediation, Gateway Casinos revealed that the company was not satisfied with the wage rates which the workers’ union has brought to the bargaining table. The employer also warned the workers’ representatives that an alternative of the proposals should be brought sooner than July 20th. The company commented on the workers’ demands that their wages should be in line with the living wages, saying that the increase they were seeking was unreasonable.
Tanya Gabara, a spokesperson for the Gateway Casinos, revealed in an e-mail that the union representing the company’s employees has made a proposal for the wage of a Casino Security officer to be 23% bigger than the starting wage of a trained entry level of an officer at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Ms. Gabara further shared that the requirements of the Service Employees Union for some other positions were comparable to the earnings of school teachers, nurses, and tradespeople.
Negotiations Unaffected by Casino Money Laundering Report
Considering the rift between the positions of Gateway Casinos and the workers’ union, the executive vice president of BCGEU – Doug Kinna – explained that the employees of the gambling operator are simply asking for what he called an “industry standard agreement”. Mr. Kinna said that a few outstanding proposals were made for the employer to respond to, and the workers’ union was willing to return to negotiating table any time when the company was ready to respond to the proposals.
Mr. Kinna further noted that rolling out an alternative proposal is a more complex format which can not be made so quickly and will definitely take more time.
Previously, the employer revealed that despite the strike, its casinos were still in operation but not at full capacity.
The disruption in the venues’ operation comes at a time when the entire casino industry in the province of British Columbia is put under close monitoring due to the recent allegations of local gambling venues being associated with illegal money laundering schemes. The recently-issued report on the matter even called local casinos “laundromats” for washing dirty money. Both Gateway Casinos and the executive vice president of the BCGEU, however, claimed that the report had no negative impact on the negotiations and they were both expecting further recommendations for the industry.