Sunshine Coast RCMP sport pink duct tape to protest salary discrepancies

Sunshine Coast RCMP officers are covering their uniforms' yellow stripes with pink duct tape, in what they describe is a symbolic protest of pay discrepancies between RCMP and municipal police forces across Canada.

Sgt. Chris Backus with Sunshine Coast RCMP said the gesture was inspired by North Vancouver RCMP officers, who this week are removing their uniform's yellow stripes to protest being without a contract.

"What we're hoping is by taping this over our stripes, that it's a respectable gesture to the public to say, we're asking for support," Backus said.

"All we're asking for is some consistency in the way we're paid as it compares with other municipal and provincial police forces throughout Canada."

RCMP members had been without a pay raise since 2014, until Wednesday evening, when, in a surprise move, Public Safety Canada announced retroactive salary increases, approved by the Treasury Board of Canada. 

The increases include a 1.25 per cent raise effective Jan. 1, 2015, another 1.25 per cent raise effective Jan. 1, 2016, and a 2.3 per cent market adjustment effective April 1, 2016.

'Gross inconsistencies'

Backus said many RCMP members found this announcement "insulting," adding that when compared to the salaries of many municipal police forces, there are "gross inconsistencies" in pay.

"If you take a constable — the first rank of the Vancouver city police — they're making as much per year as a staff sergeant in the RCMP, who is actually four pay grades higher."

Backus also said the Port Moody police chief, who manages the same number of officers as the commander of the Sunshine Coast RCMP, is paid $65,000 dollars more per year.

Last month, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told a committee of senators that he was concerned about employee retention, saying members were leaving the force to work for municipal forces, including those in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. 

In February, it was reported that Paulson had signed off on $1.7 million worth of bonuses for 90 senior RCMP officers.

"We don't have a senior management that represents us," said Backus. "We don't have a union, we don't have a voice."

Backus said Sunshine Coast RCMP will take the protest "day by day," but do not have plans to strike.

"We do not want to take work action that jeopardizes the quality of the service that serves our community," he said.