RCMP protest gains steam

‘Yel­low stripe’ move­ment cre­ated in re­sponse to low pay in­creases for Moun­ties


OT­TAWA— Two hours af­ter Com­mis­sioner Bob Paul­son warned the RCMP against protest­ing over a dis­ap­point­ingly low pay in­crease, a knot of Moun­ties un­furled a ban­ner on Par­lia­ment Hill in sup­port of a nascent would-be union and joined the “yel­low stripe” protest. It’s a move­ment that’s taken off. Many Moun­ties are us­ing duct tape to change the colour of the iconic yel­low stripe on their uni­form pants. Some have torn it off or are block­ing it out com­pletely. Other Moun­ties are sim­ply wear­ing blue tac­ti­cal cargo pants that don’t have the stripe but are uni­form-is­sue cloth­ing.

The demon­stra­tion by the cen­ten- nial flame lasted less than three min­utes over the lunch hour.

But it was a huge step for Moun­ties un­der a stand­ing or­der not to talk to me­dia with­out per­mis­sion, and whose top com­man­der says the uni­form protest un­der­mines ef­forts to build a re­spect­ful work­place, risks sour­ing re­la­tions with the gov­ern­ment ‘em­ployer’ on the eve of union­iza­tion, and could erode pub­lic trust.

Other RCMP man­agers ob­ject that it is dis­re­spect­ful of the uni­form and is a risk to pub­lic safety.

“It’s not a safety is­sue, it’s not dis­re­spect­ful; it’s just a show of sol­i­dar­ity,” coun­tered Cpl. Dennis Miller, who works with the cadet field train­ing in the na­tional cap­i­tal re­gion and is or­ga­niz­ing for the Na­tional Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion. Miller said the uni­form the NPF is ask­ing po­lice of­fi­cers to don is “the blues” worn by many units al­ready. Oth­ers on the Hill echoed that.

“It’s gal­va­nized the mem­ber­ship across Canada,” said a re­tired RCMP of­fi­cer now work­ing as a re­servist on the Hill. “There’s ac­tu­ally a sense of morale com­ing up, an esprit de corps, pride, to­geth­er­ness. The in­de­ci­sion is kind of fad­ing away.”

The yel­low stripe protest be­gan in a North Van­cou­ver de­tach­ment. Cpl. Bryan Mul­rooney came up with the idea about a month ago as a way to boost sup­port for the NPF.

Al­though RCMP brass had dis­banded the in-house labour re­la­tions body, elim­i­nated the pay coun­cil that used to ne­go­ti­ate salary and ben­e­fits, and ended pay­roll de­duc­tions for an em­ploy­ees’ le­gal fund, there was lit­tle union fer­vour un­til now.

Then the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment an­nounced last week it would give the RCMP a slight retroac­tive pay in­crease in line with the broader pub­lic ser­vice (1.25 per cent for 2015 and 2016; and a 2.3-per-cent “mar­ket ad­just­ment” for 2016). The NPF and oth­ers say it still leaves the RCMP 62nd out of 80 on the po­lice pay scales in Canada.

That’s when the yel­low-stripe protest — and the NPF’s mem­ber­ship drive — took off. Sud­denly, NPF mem­ber­ship rolls zoomed from 4,500 last Thurs­day to more than 9,500 by Wed­nes­day.

Mean­while, an­other group — the Mounted Po­lice Pro­fes­sional As­soci- ation of Canada — is strug­gling to re­cruit sup­port, re­fuses to re­lease its roll num­bers, and moved to re­verse its ini­tial op­po­si­tion to the yel­low-stripe protest. A sep­a­rate Que­becbased group is seek­ing to rep­re­sent fran­co­phone mem­bers in Que­bec but the NPF is emerg­ing as the lead rep­re­sen­ta­tive body with more than half of uni­formed rank-and-file na­tion­ally signed on.


Cpl. Dennis Miller, a Moun­tie with the Na­tional Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion, took part in a protest to sup­port de­mands for bet­ter pay, equip­ment and re­sources.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.