09/05/2012 11:26 EDT | Updated 11/05/2012 05:12 EST

B.C. government workers launch 1-day strike

Picket lines went up at government offices around the province this morning as an estimated 27,000 workers from three unions walked out on strike for better wages.

The one-day strike is expected to affect 1,785 worksites, including liquor stores, government and ICBC offices in 153 communities across B.C.

But BCGEU president Darryl Walker says the strike will not affect essential services such as court houses, prisons, forensic institutions, child protection, social workers and forest firefighters.

The job action by members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, the Professional Employees Association and the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union is the latest move in the ongoing contract disputes between public sector workers and the provincial government.

Walker says the government's offer of a two-per-cent increase starting July 1 of this year and a 1.5 per cent increase next year isn't good enough, and is demanding a retroactive 3.5 per cent pay hike this year and a cost of living increase in the second year.