Monday, February 18, 2008

Librarians on Strike

I've been following this story for a few weeks now, and have been disappointed to hear that this is going on. I am hoping to offer some simple support.

The argument boils down to these points: The librarians and staff of the municipal library system in British Columbia would like to be paid similar wages and salaries to other comparable positions within the government. The government agreed to this proposition *10 YEARS* ago. The public is backing the librarians. I wasn't sure what I could do, but there is a link to an email you can sign and send to the appropriate eyes. The following is an update from Classical Bookworm blog:

The library lockout has begun and the capital of British Columbia has no public libraries today and for the forseeable future. Roughly 300 staff are now out of work, and the patrons of one of the most heavily-used library systems in Canada are now without access to the library materials they have paid for. The tax-paying and voting public seems to be solidly behind the librarians, but our elected representatives are hell-bent on reneging on the 1996 promise of pay equity.

For too long the municipalities have benefited financially from the legacy of discrimination against workers in this female-dominated field. A joint union-management study into pay equity found gaps that, at today's pay rates, range from nearly $3 an hour to nearly $10 an hour between library staff and other civic workers. This is simply unacceptable, especially in a country where equal the treatment of men and women is our strongest right. (Unlike other Charter rights, it cannot be legislated away using the Section 33 "notwithstanding clause"—that tells you how important it is to Canadians.) It's quite sad that in 2008 women workers still have to fight for pay equity, especially in one of the most progressive parts of the country.

If you think librarians deserve pay equity, do take a moment to send a message to the City of Victoria (which has the most representatives on the library board). Comments from outside the area will have extra weight in our tourism-sensitive region. Our local politicians should know that they are being watched. Thank you.

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