BC school board says no money for CUPE pay hikeOctober 9, 2013
Many people breathed a sigh of relief last month when CUPE announced it had reached a tentative framework agreement with government for a new contract. It appeared a strike by support staff in B.C. public schools had been averted.
But the calm was short-lived as government made it clear that boards of education would have to find savings to cover the cost of the promised wage increase of 3.5 per cent over two years. The Education Ministry instructed boards to submit reports by Oct. 15 explaining how they would pay for the salary increase without cutting core services for students.
That isn’t sitting well with school trustees who have told the ministry repeatedly that they have already cut spending as much as possible. Union members are also worried that the small pay increase might end up costing jobs.
The Vancouver board says it may have to cut as many as 40 employees to pay for the CUPE increase. A report from senior staff is to be discussed at a meeting tonight.
Coquitlam board, which discovered a serious budget shortfall and had to chop $12 million in spending this year, is now searching for additional cost reductions worth $1 million.
On Tuesday, one board – Kootenay Lake – decided by a 5-2 vote that it would not submit a savings plan.
“While the ministry is asking boards to find the money within our budgets, they had also said there could be no impact on our core services,” said board chair Mel Joy, who was quoted in a Nelson Star story. “Our board stated last night that there was no way we could make reductions in our budget without impacting services to students.”
Kootenay Lake trustees weren’t sure Tuesday how the ministry might respond. Boards have until December to ratify an agreement with their CUPE locals.
Please let me know if other boards have also voted not to submit savings plans.
For more information on the impact of the Liberals’ cooperative gains mandate on public sector employees, read a Globe and Mail story here.