Casino strikers demand BCLC intervene

Call for corporation to ensure Hard Rock workers in Coquitlam get fair treatment

Striking unionized employees at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver in Coquitlam have demanded the B.C. Lottery Corporation intervene to facilitate a "fair and speedy resolution" to the dispute.

Casino workers, members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU), took the request to the corporation's Vancouver offices during the noon hour on Monday (June 11), exactly a month after going on strike. The offices doors, however, were locked so they slipped hundreds of petition cards signed by the workers through the door.

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"Casino workers from across the province have had enough," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith in a press release. "We are appealing to the BCLC to help ensure fairness across the gaming industry."

Smith said Hard Rock's owners, Great Canadian Gaming, and Gateway Casinos "rake in billions of dollars year after year, but refuse to pay workers a living wage" and asked BCLC to step in and enforce fairness in the industry across the province.

More than 400 BCGEU members are employed at Hard Rock. The union said 675 workers at Gateway Casinos in the Okanagan voted 93.1% in favour of strike action last week, and those employed by Gateway's Burnaby and New Westminster operations are also in bargaining.

"Casino workers are asking for fair wages, benefits and respect on the job," said Smith. "It's the staff who make their casinos profitable and they deserve to share in that success."

In a statement to The Tri-City News, BCLC said it has received the petition but there's not much it can do.

"BCLC is not party to the labour dispute between our casino service providers and its unionized employees and has no legal standing to intervene," said BCLC spokeswoman Anjeet Gill. "BCLC respects the right to exercise their collective rights as a union — as permitted by law. We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the safety and security of players and the integrity of games."

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