Deal reached in Gateway Casinos strike

The BC Government and Service Employees' Union and Gateway Casinos have reached a tentative agreement for the 675 casino workers on strike throughout the Okanagan.

The strike began late June, as union members put pressure on Gateway for wages that match the industry standard.

BCGEU President Stephanie Smith says, now that the bargaining committee and the empoloyer have come to the agreement, the final decision will be in the hands of the workers.

"We're setting up a series of meetings next week," says Smith. "We have four different locations, and we want to make sure that as many members as possible have an opportunity to go through the tentative agreement and ask their questions. At this point we don't have a date for the actual vote - we'll focus on the meetings next week and we'll have a date for the vote as soon as possible.

Until ratification takes place, the picket lines in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, and Kamloops will stay where they are.

If the workers vote in favour of the new agreement, they'll go straight back to work.

Smith praised the perseverance of the workers, who would have been on strike for 18 weeks come Friday.

"Our members have been really strong, and they've been really resolved," says Smith. "I have to give a solid thank-you to the communities and the broader labour movement. I think that's gone a long way to strengthening our members."

Since the strike began, the four Gateway Casinos locations in the region, including Playtime Casino right here in Kelowna, have been operating with limited staff and services.