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October 28, 2017 5:23 am

No End in Sight for UNBC Labour Dispute

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 @ 2:06 PM


Prince George, B.C. – There’s no end in sight when it comes to the labour dispute at UNBC.

The Faculty Association has been on strike since last week and no new talks are planned with the school’s administration.

The biggest sticking point continues to be wages, with both sides far apart on the issue.

UNBC has offered a financial package worth $4.5 million, including a 5.5% wage increase over the next five years.

External relations vice-president Rob van Adrichem says the offer is consistent with the provincial government’s Economic Stability Mandate.

“I think the university has been fairly clear and I would say this has been for several years now, to be honest, about the financial constraints that it is operating under and that relates to everything from government funding and the increase in universities in B.C., through to demographics in the north, and how that may be affecting our enrollment.”

He adds the university has costed the Faculty Association’s proposal at $20 million, something president Jacqueline Holler disputes, calling the number “outrageous and inflammatory.”

“Well because of the way that they’re choosing to cost our proposal, those are the numbers they’ve come up with. And we dispute those numbers. If anyone costed the increase in a budget or anything like that, in any other situation, it would be considered bizarre accounting,” she says.

Holler says she doesn’t actually believe the parties are that far apart but hesitates to put a dollar figure on their proposal.

“Part of the problem is that they are proposing a five year contract and we’re proposing a two year contract. And so we need to know what it is exactly we’re being asked to put a number figure on. So that’s the complexity there.”

So with both sides seemingly so far apart, what’s it going to take to get them back to the table?

“Great question. I don’t know how to answer that to be honest,” says van Adrichem. “I think the university has recognized that there’s a gap in compensation. It’s taken 20 years of agreements, and I think that’s an important word, agreements, that have led us to this place. And we really do feel that the proposal we’ve made is a significant effort to begin to address that gap.”

Holler admits the days “are ticking by” noting “UNBC is saving a huge amount of money by having us all out on strike.”

She also suggests the ball is in UNBC’s court.

“I don’t really know what to say about that but to reiterate that we are ready to return to the table whenever they’ve got an idea to get in touch with us. We’re waiting for the call but we’re standing firm.”


So they want a two year contract. What are they asking for in increases in these two years. Is it possible they want the offer of 5.5% over 5 years to apply on a two year contract.???

Rob van Adrichem is finally admitting that this University has funding problems from the Provincial Government (Due to enrollments) has problems because of the increase in Universities in BC, and an enrolment problem due to the demographics in the North. Surprise, surprise, some people have been saying that for years.

I suggest that they come to an agreement pretty fast, because any delay will only make a bad situation worse. Next thing you know students will be leaving for greener pastures.

Two years makes far more sense. 5 years at 5.5% is less then inflation for workers in PG that are already the lowest paid in their sector in the province. The province should have pay parity no matter where one chooses to live in the province.

We in the north work hard to earn this province money through our resource sector, so we expect our education facilities to be fully funded as they are elsewhere in the province.

What happens when interest rates go up…. Inflation its twin will likely be far more than 1% per year two or three years out.

Eagleone. Universities are funded on the basis of full time equivalent undergraduate students.

Problem is with our low enrolment we get less funding. In fact the BC Government has over funded UNBC for the past five years.

The present funding process seems to work elsewhere in BC, it just here in Prince George and area, where we have a small population and poor enrolments that the problem arises.

In a perfect world, where we would use facts ahead of hyperbole, we would have established a long time ago, that UNBC as it presently functions cannot be sustained. Perhaps we should make it a University College like Kamloops and Victoria.

Palopu says:

Perhaps we should make it a University College like Kamloops and Victoria.

Let’s try to stick to the facts:

Kamloops has a University – Thompson Rivers University (TRU) which evolved from a university-college and still maintains diverse programming including Trades

Victoria has a University – University of Victoria (UVic) a research university and Camosun College (which offers diverse programs including Trades).
So …. Prince George (and the rest of the North) has a current situation close to Victoria’s current scenario and no one has a university-college anymore.

The UNBC Administrators are completely delusional. They won’t even admit that there is a problem with underpaying their employees.

External relations vice-president Rob van Adrichem states “It’s taken 20 years of agreements, and I think that’s an important word, agreements, that have led us to this place.”

20 years of agreements, agreements under both NDP and Liberal Governments!

Obviously it will take time to address any wage disparity. After all, it took 20 years to get to the current situation. The Union wants its all and they want it now but they don’t seem to want to admit that they played a role in creating this problem.

Should be interesting to see how this gets settled!

As a UNBC alumni I believe the professors and staff should be paid in line with their peers. That said, I don’t think the Faculty Association should be surprised by programming and staff cuts if they get what they’re asking for.

The decline in enrolment was forseeable. A significant portion of UNBC’s enrolment came from outside of its catchment region. When the province converted a bunch of colleges in the south into universities, many of the students who formerly would have gone to UNBC went to one of the new southern universities instead. The expansion in the number of university places in the south should have taken into account the capacity of the existing universities.

UNBCV employees underpaid? What a joke. No one in academia is underpaid. Look at the hourly pay rate for the BCTF for example. The UNBC pay packet prior to the existing contract was pretty juicy so perhaps someone could tell us here what they are getting now…

Pretty juicy if you add the paid sick days in! They get more sick days in a year than most people use in a 40 year career.

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