Some Mounties remove stripes in protest amid labour dispute
Published Thursday, April 6, 2017 6:12PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 8, 2017 4:47PM PDT
Several members of a Metro Vancouver RCMP detachment are staging a silent protest after going years without a contract or pay raise from the federal government.
Many of North Vancouver's Mounties have removed the yellow stripe from their uniform, or donned blue cargo pants instead, an act of defiance highlighting the fact that officers across the country haven't had a contract since January 2015.
CTV News has learned other detachments are considering joining as well, though an edict from RCMP headquarters in Ottawa has barred municipal forces from commenting on either the wage issue or the yellow stripe campaign.
"Management can understand our members' concerns, however we do not endorse this action. We are communicating this to our employees," the RCMP said in an email statement.
Brian Sauve, chairman of the National Police Federation, said Mounties are frustrated that they're constantly compared to the public service, but don't share the benefit of being represented by a union.
RCMP officers won the right to unionize in a Supreme Court of Canada decision two years ago, but Sauve said the government has been slow bringing forward the legislation necessary for them to move forward.
"We've spent the last year completely unrepresented," he said. "No seat at the table, no voice and no collective ability to negotiate with our employer."
Sauve himself is a sergeant with the RCMP on unpaid leave with the National Police Federation, which is vying against the Mounted Police Professional Association to become the union representing Mounties.
Late on Wednesday, Canada's Public Safety Minister announced a retroactive raise of 1.25 per cent for 2015 and 2016, plus a 2.3 per cent market adjustment effective April 2016.
Sauve called the offer a "slap in the face" that was a wakeup call to many RCMP officers.
"They're starting to realize the force will only be fixed by the membership, not management," Sauve said.
Apart from the yellow stripe campaign, there has been talk among Mounties that volunteer appearances in the distinctive red serge will be minimal until a deal with the government is reached. Events include Canada Day celebrations, which are already being planned as larger than usual for our nation’s 150th anniversary.
Meanwhile, some officers are being tempted to jump ship and join non-RCMP municipal police forces, which promise better pay and benefits. The Edmonton Police Service is even offering a $5,000 bonus to experienced officers who transfer to its team.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos