Editorial: Labour pains not overyet

The provincial government has settled contract negotiations with all but a few public sector unions and stayed the course on net zero.

The provincial government is holding its breath these days, having settled contract negotiations with all but a few public sector unions and stayed the course on net zero.

But how long can it keep up this magician’s act? At some point, organized labour, led perhaps by a tag-team of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union and B.C. nurses, will stage a mass revolt against the no-raise, cupboard-is-bare philosophy.

Some months ago, the province gave public sector employers such as post-secondary institutions the opportunity to receive modest wage increases, if the employer was able to find equivalent savings somewhere else in its operation. But increases in government grants to such bodies in recent years – they’re still playing catch-up from previously slashed funding – have done little more than match increases in operating expenses. Therefore, finding savings has become a little like finding a needle in a haystack.

One of the province’s largest unions, the B.C. Government and Services Employees Union, even sought ways to save the government money to cover off modest wage increases for its members. But that doesn’t mean they’re in a conciliatory mood.

The BCGEU’s one-day strike this week at the Liquor Distribution Branch in Victoria, held to protest any future privatization of that service, was a minor flexing of its muscle. More telling may have been the union’s stepping away from mediation at the bargaining table with the province last week, stating that no progress had been made in negotiations.

They could be the wolf at the door for the lame-duck Liberals. Despite not having gone on a full strike for 20 years, the BCGEU still wields clout, as no one wants government services to shut down.

While unions must be reasonable in their wage demands at this time, government needs to begin to offer some modest incentives for the people who work for them. Even if it’s a simple token of their esteem.

Just Posted

Westhills Stadium launches expanded stadium with ceremony, excitement

expanded stadium accommodates 6,000 spectators

VIDEO: RCMP officer killed in the line of duty remembered ‘through the laughter of children’

Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground opens with ceremony in Langford

Sooke school district creates new comprehensive school health position

Ruchi McArthur will develop framework to improve wellness of students

B.C. police watchdog investigating high-speed crash in Victoria

Police watchdog called in after dramatic early morning crash at Bay and Douglas intersection

NCAA basketball comes to UVic this fall

Eight-team tournament features top university women’s basketball teams Nov. 28-30

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Most Read