Local Mounties ditching pant stripes for union, higher pay
(Photo credit Shane MacKichan)
Some B.C. Mounties are continuing to cover the stripes on their pants to protest in support of a nationwide campaign for higher pay and a union for the RCMP.
“It started in North Vancouver and spread to the Sunshine Coast and now it’s all across the country,” said Brian Sauvé, an RCMP sergeant on leave and co-chair of the National Police Federation, which is awaiting a response from the federal government to its application to represent all RCMP members in Canada.
The federation is vying with the Mounted Police Professional Association to form a union that would represent rank-and-file members.
“I can’t say whether it’s every member, or 50 per cent, but it’s in Richmond, Burnaby, and other detachments are following suit,”Sauvé said of the decision by individual members to cover the yellow stripes on their uniform pants in solidarity with the campaign — while still serving their communities.
Sauvé called the protest a “grassroots movement and we support every member’s right to express their displeasure. And it’s a passive way of doing that.”
Sauvé did not know how long the protest would last.
According to the federation, officers are also using the silent protest to highlight pay discrepancies between Mounties and municipal police officers, and staffing shortages.
Sauvé said officers who participate in the protest could face discipline for being out of full uniform.
The federation said members are frustrated by several things, including an eight-year “effective pay freeze, lack of resources to better manage risk, rising detachment attrition rates and “inconsistent ... use of the disciplinary process.”
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale recently announced retroactive salary hikes for the RCMP (a 1.25-per-cent raise effective Jan. 1, 2015, a 1.25-per-cent raise effective Jan. 1, 2016, and a 2.3-per-cent market adjustment effective April 1, 2016).
However, the federation said in a statement that the pay increase “does very little” for its members.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled two years ago that RCMP officers have the right to unionize. The federal government passed Bill C-7, which would pave the way for a labour relations regime in the RCMP.
However, a Senate committee identified major weaknesses in the legislation, and sent the bill back to the House of Commons. The government has yet to redraft it.
— with a file from Victoria Times Colonist