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VANCOUVER – The Liberal government took a major swipe at people’s rights and freedoms today with legislation to end two strikes and mediated bargaining by CUPE locals at the University of British Columbia.

CUPE members have been blindsided by the government’s deceitful approach to protecting an employer who is hell bent on introducing American–style universities to B.C.,” said Barry O’Neill, president of CUPE BC.

“When Graham Bruce [Minister of Skills Development and Labour] called the parties together for a discussion on Monday he gave no indication that legislation was in the offing,” O’Neill said. “We thought he was sincere in demanding that bargaining resume in good faith. Clearly he was in collusion with UBC for whom I cannot believe this legislation is a surprise.

“His legislative actions today are as deceitful as those of the employer he is defending and I have no doubt that he will hear from thousands of British Columbians already concerned about their rights and freedoms.”

“This employer has given generous wage and benefits settlements to university elites, including a 63 per cent wage increase for UBC president Martha Piper,” he added. “Yet it began negotiations with students who are teaching assistants and markers by removing their medical benefits and the slight assurance they had had against huge tuition increases.

“Add to that UBC’s removal of already promised pay equity, contracting out of public services and British Columbians start to get a picture of what this government is determined to do to public institutions.”

CUPE BC will comment further on the legislation once its full impact has been assessed.