05/15/2012 04:51 EDT | Updated 07/15/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. government workers vote 82% for strike

The 25,000 members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union have voted 82 per cent in favour of strike action, the union revealed on Tuesday.

BCGEU President Darryl Walker says the vote gives the union executive a stronger hand in talks set to resume next week.

"We’re very happy our members have given us a strong strike mandate to take back to the bargaining table on May 23 in Vancouver," said Walker in a statement released by the union on Tuesday.

"If the government doesn’t move on its proposals, we’ll be forced to consider job action."

The union had broken off talks with the B.C. government in late March when the previous contract expired, and called a strike vote for April.

The government's last offer was one and a half per cent a year over two years. The union is seeking an increase equal to the cost of living increase plus one per cent.

"The government wanted concessions. It also presented a wage and benefit offer well below inflation and far less than six to 20 per cent pay raises the government gave some of its executive and ministerial assistants recently," said Walker.

BCGEU members include government administration staff, corrections and sheriff services, some hospital staff, liquour retailing and wholesale operations, social workers, child protection, probation officers, system analysts and environmental services.