On the Picket Line

British Columbia workers strike casino bosses over pay, dignity

By Katy LeRougetel
August 20, 2018

PENTICTON, British Columbia — Members of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union struck four casinos in the Okanagan region June 29. Over 675 cashiers, dealers, kitchen staff and others are demanding higher wages. This worker correspondent and two other Walmart workers traveled from Vancouver’s Lower Mainland to bring solidarity to the picketers at the Gateway Casino here July 26.

Strikers told us the government says a so-called living wage here is at least $18 an hour. “Prior to June 1 when the minimum wage went up to $12.65 an hour, the dealers’ starting wage was $11.40,” said Candy Diffin, shop steward and a guest service representative. A dealer on the picket line said, “My wage was $12.50, so it went up to $12.65 — that’s my raise for the year.” His placard read, “I’m a prisoner of minimum wages.”

We picketed along with the casino strikers, meeting nurses who brought doughnuts, unionized government workers who distributed ice cream, and workers from two other unions who displayed their own union’s placards.