The commander of the Sunshine Coast RCMP says he wants to reassure the public that a protest by some local RCMP members hasn’t had any impact on service delivery.
During his quarterly update to Gibsons council April 18, Staff Sgt. Vishal Mathura described the movement, which began with members at the Sunshine Coast and North Vancouver detachments removing or covering the yellow stripes on their trousers, as a “silent protest by some members of the RCMP related to their current wages and the current working conditions we have in the RCMP.”
Mathura gave no hint about where he stands on the issues behind the protest, but told councillors he’s been keeping his stripes on “because as detachment commander, I have to be a role model.”
Mayor Wayne Rowe, whose son is a police officer, said his sympathies lie with the protesting RCMP members.
“I hope your members are eventually successful in their negotiations with the federal government,” Rowe told Mathura. “Having a son who is a police officer, I know what members face and it’s a task that they need to be well compensated for.”
Mathura’s comments came as the National Police Federation (NPF), one of the groups trying to form an RCMP union, announced that thanks to a surge in membership sign-ups as a result of the no-stripes protest, it has applied to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board for union certification.
The NPF has also moved to try to prevent disciplinary action against RCMP members participating in the protest. In a letter to Commissioner Bob Paulson, the federation’s co-chairs said, “We strongly encourage you to communicate to all managers and the broader membership that there will be no discipline, at any level, for any member exercising their Charter protected right to associate and peacefully protest. Should we continue to hear of managers sending members home to change or verbally reprimanding them, we will consider this an unfair labour practice and make a complaint to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board.”
RCMP headquarters has not replied to Coast Reporter’s request for information about disciplinary action.