Hard Rock workers set to strike

Employees of the Hard Rock Casino were expected to walk off the job today (Friday) after labour negotiations broke down between the union representing workers and the company earlier this week.

According to the BC Government and Service Employees' Union, which represents 400 casino workers, 72-hour strike notice was issued Tuesday and a rally is planned for outside the facility Friday at 2 p.m.

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"There was a final offer vote from the employer, which, had we agreed to that, members would have seen rollbacks," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. 

In February, employees voted 99.5% in favour of taking strike action, with 90% of ballots cast. That prompted mediation, which is required by the B.C. Labour Code, but Smith said that neither side was able to come to an agreement. 

According to the union, the company is offering a similar agreement to what was given to employees at the River Rock Casino in Richmond. But gains negotiated in that contract will be erased as minimum wage increases in British Columbia over the next two years. 

The BCGEU said it is hoping to avoid a similar situation for Hard Rock Casino employees in Coquitlam and are trying to ensure gains made by workers on the lower end of the pay scale through the increase in minimum wage are seen by workers with higher hourly wages.

Unionized workers include slot attendants, table game workers, cashiers, count room staff, kitchen staff, security guards and guest services personnel. 

The employees joined the BCGEU in May 2016 and have been negotiating a collective agreement with the employer since 2017. 

A spokesperson for the company, the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., would not speak to The Tri-City News, but issued an email statement Thursday expressing disappointment over the dispute. 

"Despite offering a collective agreement that is at or above industry standards, our offer was rejected," said Jimmy Ho, the general manager of the Hard Rock Casino, in the email. "However, during the labour disruption, Hard Rock Casino Vancouver will remain open for business."

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

@gmckennaTC

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