Provincial government risks recruitment and turnover problems if it ignores wage trends in next round of public sector bargaining

November 9, 2005

(Vancouver) As the BC government enters into collective bargaining with over 80% of the province’s public sector workers, it will have to consider that wages in the broader labour market are on the rise. Recent and forecast wage trends among major public and private employers are outlined in a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. 

“Major employers know that they don’t operate in a vacuum. If they ignore what’s going on in the labour market, they risk higher employee turnover, increased recruitment and training costs, and morale problems. This is especially true when unemployment is low,” says Stuart Murray, author of the CCPA report and a former compensation analyst. “Most large employers pay close attention to compensation surveys from human resources consulting firms, which recently predicted national 2006 pay increases of just over 3%.”

Between 2002 and 2005, compensation surveys show that unionized employees in the BC private sector achieved pay increases totaling 7.2% and the public sector across Canada achieved increases of nearly 10%. During that same time, however, public sector employees in BC saw their wages increase by only 2.2%, a figure that includes municipal employees and others not affected by the province’s wage freeze or wage rollbacks.

“These numbers should inform the government’s thinking about what an appropriate negotiating position might be,” says Murray.  “The government is early in its new mandate, and can still choose a path based on sound management practices that are consistent with labour market trends.”


Stuart Murray’s review of compensation survey data is part of a CCPA backgrounder, “Paying Our Public Servants: The Dollars and Sense of BC and National Wage Trends."

To arrange an interview, call Shannon Daub at 604-801-5121 x226.