Saturday, October 16, 2010

School District 61: Perpetuating the "Motherhood Gap"

Several recent grievances demonstrate how school district 61 is complicit in the discriminatory treatment of women and mothers in a way that is a key component of the ‘Motherhood Gap’ – lower lifetime wages for mothers.

The Greater Victoria Teachers Association first grieved the failure to provide parenthood “top up” to birth mothers, while they are providing this benefit to adoptive parents and birth fathers. This has gone to an arbitration hearing and we are still waiting for the result.

Next a teacher brought to the union’s attention the discriminatory treatment of birth mothers and parents by not providing salary increments for time spent on maternity/parenthood leave. This is contrary to the Employment Standards Act, as well as Human Rights legislation. The district has offered only a half-way solution that would exclude all the mothers and parents not yet at step 10 on the salary scale that have had children in the past ten years. The union is pursuing this grievance to arbitration to seek fair wage increases for all those mothers and parents who have lost income.

Finally, the union has just grieved a case of a new mother denied “top up” benefits on a temporary contract. The union believes this too is a violation of the Employment Standards Act which states that mothers and parents must be treated “as if the leave were never taken”, with no wage or benefit loss.

Recent news reports and research studies (see for example ) have identified wage loss and wage increase loss as one of the key components of the “gender gap”…calling this phenomenon the “motherhood gap”. Teachers in at least one school district are clearly experiencing this.

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