Net zero not sustainable

A net zero per cent wage increase mandate is not such an unreasonable concept in this atmosphere of tough economic times.

A net zero per cent wage increase mandate  is not such an unreasonable concept in this atmosphere of tough economic times.

Looking at the current dispute between the province and B.C. teachers, one of the main issues has been the $2-billion gap on compensation between what the government is prepared to pay, and what the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has asked for. The government calls the union’s demands “unrealistic” given the current economic environment.

After the global recession in 2008, the government brought in a net-zero mandate for all public-sector agreements expiring after Dec. 31, 2009. The result is that a salary increase can only happen if there are savings found in other areas of the collective agreement.

When agreements expire, especially in the public service, employees have an expectation that they should see some improvement in their new agreement: a wage increase, more paid time off, or that the employer should contribute more towards the employees’ cost of benefits such as extended health and dental.

With net zero still being enforced, teachers are in a position where they must decide what they really desire from their contract. If they want an increase in paid sick days, for example, they will need to give up a benefit of equal monetary value to make up the difference.

When times are good, the government can afford to increase wages and benefits, but when times are tough, net zero is the way to go.

Net zero, however, is far from a sustainable strategy and the government has to start looking ahead to future negotiations.

Ironically, the teachers could be among the first to benefit from a non net-zero scenario. The mandate is slated to end June 30, opening up the potential for the teacher’s union to avoid if it delays bargaining long enough.

It could have an ‘us too’ effect on more than 100 other agreements signed by other unions since net zero was brought in.

One day a settlement will be reached that allows for wage increases, and the floodgates will open. Let’s hope the government has a plan to deal with upcoming agreements that lays the groundwork for future labour peace.

Just Posted

420 celebrations turn over new leaf at B.C. legislature

Cannabis is legal for the first time in the 21-year existence of the 420 event in Victoria

VIDEO: ‘Stewie the Starfish’ mascot revealed at Premier League kickoff party

Pacific FC kickoff party scores in Victoria Inner Harbour

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake returns to Langford

Annual fundraising event held from April 26 to 28

Report calls on Saanich to expand multicultural programming at recreation facilities

Report also notes that Saanich could do more for sexual minorities.

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Most Read