New Brunswick

Pay-equity raises going to CUPE school workers

About 3,000 people working in New Brunswick’s education system, almost all of them women, are getting a pay-equity raise from the provincial government.

Educational and administrative assistants, library workers, and intervention workers to get wage increases

Finance Minister Cathy Rogers, right, was joined by CUPE officials and pay-equity activists for Thursday's announcement. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

About 3,000 people working in New Brunswick's education system, almost all of them women, are getting a pay-equity raise from the provincial government.

Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said the move comes after an evaluation found the jobs had lower salaries because they were traditionally done by women.

The affected positions include educational assistants, administrative assistants, school library workers and intervention workers.

"This one is a sector that I believe is close to 98 per cent women," Rogers told reporters.

"So to compare on levels that are able to be compared, you look at skill, at work conditions, at effort and at responsibility in the jobs, and it gives some comparables of apples and apples."

The change will cost the government $3.5 million a year over 10 years.

Vallie Stearns-Anderson, chair of the Coalition for Pay Equity, welcomed the news of a pay-equity raise for 3,000 CUPE workers in the school system. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)
The employees, all represented by Local 2745 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, will get back pay for the increase going back four years, and then will see salary increases over the next six years.

Vallie Stearns-Anderson, the chair of the Coalition for Pay Equity, called the move a "big step forward."

"This is a group, 99 per cent women who work in our schools, who work with children, who have been undervalued for decades," she said.

"It's time for them to have pay equity as soon as possible. This is a big step forward in that direction."

It's a big step forward.- Vallie Stearns-Anderson, Coalition for Pay Equity

Stearns-Anderson said she would have liked to have seen the pay increases implemented faster.

And she said the announcement does nothing for women working in the private sector, where no pay-equity laws apply.

She said pay equity should be legislated "in the public and private sectors equally. Voluntary measures don't work."

Rogers said public-sector pay equity was a Liberal campaign promise but the government has taken "some steps" toward moving into the private sector by asking private companies who sign government contracts to implement it.

She said legislation forcing the private sector to bring in pay equity is "worthy of considering."

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