Dear GLP members,
If you are part of BC’s emergency response to wildfires and floods you may not be paid for your work. For newer members this may come as a surprise, so we want to make sure you are aware of the language in the GLP collective agreement so that you make informed decisions about what additional work you take on.
Beginning in 2004 a provision was added to the PEA’s collective agreement (Appendix H, Leave for Meritorious Service) intended to allow for compensation of PEA members who work extraordinary hours during emergencies.
Appendix H is only in place when emergencies like floods and wildfires happen and the province, through the deputy minister responsible for the provincial emergency program, activates Appendix H. The activation is often delayed by weeks or months after PEA members have contributed extraordinary hours, not knowing if they will be paid for any of the work they’ve performed. During the atmospheric river of 2021, Appendix H wasn’t activated until the PEA wrote to the Deputy Minister of Emergency Management asking for Appendix H to be activated.
Even after the activation of Appendix H, PEA members are only compensated with straight time, though they may work long, irregular hours, work through rest days and holidays, or work away from their homes and families. We have also seen Appendix H revoked retroactively without the members knowing.
As a result of how Appendix H is handled by the Public Service Agency (PSA), we recommend members carefully review the language in Appendix H. If you have questions about how you will be compensated we encourage you to talk to your fellow PEA members, your union leadership or your supervisor.
The PEA has repeatedly expressed concerns to the PSA, Ministers and senior government staff that with an increasing number of extreme weather emergencies, we have a shortage of professionals who can step in to help. The result is burnout, increased reliance on out-of-province personnel and more expensive private contractors. This inhibits the effectiveness of BC’s fire and flood response. It also causes inadequate staffing levels when members do step forward to help but may have to drop an important project with no other team members to carry it forward.
Your bargaining committee campaigned for changes to Appendix H and brought this issue to the bargaining table in 2022. We were told by the Employer that because it’s an Appendix to the collective agreement, it couldn’t be negotiated during bargaining. We disagree that Appendix H can’t be bargained, especially since during our meetings with various ministers, including Minister Farnworth, we were told it could only be changed during bargaining. The Employer will also not engage in discussions about improvements to the Appendix H language unless the PEA is prepared to change OSS (compensation of 7 per cent of salary to regular full-time members in lieu of all overtime, shift work and standby). We are not prepared to change our OSS language.
We have confirmed a meeting with the Minister of Finance, Katrine Conroy, for later this month to discuss the changes that need to be made to Appendix H and have requested further meetings with Ministers Farnworth, Bains and Ma.
Member profiles and videos on Appendix are available at www.pea.org/AppendixH
Your GLP Executive