BURNABY – BC Finance Minister Carole Taylor’s announcement today of a $1-billion, one-time provision for public sector compensation increases in 2005-06 should not be used as an excuse to avoid free collective bargaining, the Canadian Union of Public Employees said in response.
CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock said that while the union is glad to see the government avoid a “one size fits all” approach in its budget allocations for public sector workers, he hopes that the new negotiating framework is not in fact another blow to free collective bargaining.
“Obviously we know that government, like every employer, has a budget they have to work within,” said Hancock.
“But that doesn’t pre-empt the need to negotiate contracts. We’re looking forward to going to the bargaining table in a number of sectors and looking at real issues in K-12, universities and colleges, health and social services. We expect the government to be prepared to do the same.”
Earlier this afternoon, Taylor announced that the government is setting aside $1 billion for public sector wage increases. The Minister said that the provincial surplus was higher than expected due to increases in natural gas royalties and “stronger corporate and personal income tax revenues.”
Taylor said the government’s new negotiating framework will guide public sector compensation through 2009-10. The five-year total of available funds for 300,000 employees is $5.7 billion.
Hancock said that CUPE locals will go to the bargaining table to address fair compensation and decent working conditions to ensure that the important services they deliver are maintained.