Statement by the Communist Party of BC Provincial Committee, April 9, 2022
This spring’s round of collective bargaining talks between the main union representing provincial employees and the Horgan government has reached an impasse, according to the BCGEU, which says the latest offer from the NDP is effectively a wage cut. The BC Provincial Committee of the Communist Party extends its full solidarity with BCGEU members and all other provincial employees in their struggle for pay increases which go beyond the current rate of inflation, to make up for income losses in recent years.
The information released earlier this week by bargaining committee for the B.C. General Employees’ Union shows that the government’s three-year offer is less than half the rate of inflation. The Horgan government’s proposal for an increase of 1.75 per cent in the first year, and two per cent in each of the second and third years, plus a minor signing bonus and 25 cents/hour in the first year, would in fact amount to a pay cut of well over five percent over the span of a three year agreement.
This unacceptable offer is far below the union’s demand for a two-year deal with cost-of-living allowance protection or a five per cent general wage increase (whichever is greater) in the first year of the agreement, and a five per cent across the board increase in a second year. Even this union proposal would leave BCGEU members falling further behind at current rates of inflation, which most economists predict will continue into the near future. The costs of essentials of life – especially housing and food – continue to skyrocket in British Columbia, with the worst impacts on working people at lower income levels. An agreement at the rates BCGEU is seeking would help raise the floor for all working people in British Columbia, which has become one of the most expensive places to live in all of North America.
The union has already warned that the Horgan government’s refusal to budge on its unacceptable pay offer may require its membership to consider work stoppages this spring. The Communist Party renews our call for the NDP government to find the fiscal room to pay for inflation-plus pay increases and other urgent social spending needs, by rolling back the former Campbell Liberal government’s massive tax cuts to corporations and upper income earners. Over the last 20 years, these cuts have put an extra $60 billion into the bank accounts of the wealthiest in British Columbia. It’s time the NDP reversed those historic giveaways and make the needs of working people the priority, not corporate profits.
For more information, contact Communist Party of BC leader Kimball Cariou, 604-255-2041, or the Vancouver Island organizer for the Communist Party, Tyson Strandlund, 250-883-7321.