BURNABY—Today’s announcement by the BC Liberal provincial government that public sector workers, including many CUPE members, will receive a very small pay raise next year is welcome but does very little to help workers keep pace with the cost of living, CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Paul Faoro said today.
“We’re glad that the approximately 48,000 of our members who work in sectors directly funded by the provincial government will see a modest wage increase beginning next year as a result of the provincial economy outperforming forecasts,” said Faoro. “That said, as a result of BC Liberal cuts and funding reductions, our members—along with thousands of other unionized workers in the public service—have been falling behind over the past decade.
“An increase of .45 percent, while welcome, doesn’t even begin to keep our members whole relative to the cost of living.”
The government announced today that the economy had grown slightly faster than it had predicted. The so-called “Economic Stability Dividend” (ESD) insisted upon by the Liberals in the last round of bargaining means that half the difference is to be distributed among public sector workers covered by those contracts.
Faoro said that from 2002 – 2015 (the BC Liberal government’s time in office) the K-12 sector has had total wage increases of 13.2%. During that time, the rate of inflation was 20.1%, a differential of 6.9 percentage points.
“That almost 7 percent gap means that for more than a decade thousands of households across B.C. have had less money to pay for housing and essentials for their families,” said Faoro. “By cutting the wages of the workers who deliver the important public services we all depend on, the Liberals are actually damaging the provincial economy and local economies all over B.C. It makes no sense, especially when economic growth is so anemic.
“If the Premier and her government really want to ensure important public services are properly supported, she needs to drop gimmicks like the ESD and so-called bargaining mandates and restore fair and free collective bargaining in the public sector.”