B.C.’s signing bonus a success

It wasn’t just the $1 billion that sealed the deals, say unions
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/17/2006

What does a billion dollars buy these days? Apparently, years of labour peace. With contract ratification votes running at 80 and 90 per cent, the British Columbia government’s bargaining tactic of dangling cash in exchange for hammering out collective agreements by a deadline has proven to be a success.

With 90 per cent of its public-sector contracts coming up for renewal last spring, the province came up with an unusual gambit in the hopes of securing labour peace in the run-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It set aside $6 billion to fund wage increases for the province’s 300,000 public-sector workers.

Last month a potential holdout, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, signed on the dotted line, quashing the fear of labour disruptions when students return to classes in the fall. Though not yet ratified by press time, the deal provides increases of 16 per cent over five years and an enhanced signing bonus of $14,000.