OTTAWA CUPE Local 1287 workers and their supporters briefly occupied the lobby of the Conference Board of Canada, boosting pressure to settle a 10-week old strike at the Niagara Institute in
CUPE workers travelled from southern Ontario to bring their message to the Conference Board. The Niagara Institute is affiliated to the board.
CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan cheered the workers admirable commitment, saying that a strike is always a difficult struggle. He pledged to take the campaign to the next level.
Ten weeks is long enough, Ryan told picketers. We know that [Conference Board President] Anne Golden values her progressive reputation in the media, so maybe its time to put her on the spot with a campaign to expose whats going on.
After picketing the building at noon, Ryan led the crowd inside the boards national office to tell upper management that the workers in
Niagara-on-the-Lake are not alone.
The crowd easily filled the buildings lobby and their chants carried through the buildings mezzanines and open internal courtyard. Curious office workers peered down from second and third story balconies to see what the fuss was about.
From the middle of the lobby, Michael Hurley, President of the Council of Hospital Unions, told them what the fuss was all about.
It staggers the mind to think that the Conference Board would let 13 workers be on the picket line so long, Hurley told the crowd. By God, larger corporations than this have been brought to heel by the labour movement of Canada, so we urge you to get back to the bargaining table.
Workers at the institute are on strike for a fair wage increase. All other issues have been resolved. In a show of solidarity last week, the 13 workers unanimously rejected the employers final offer in a vote forced by the Ministry of Labour.
Staff from CUPE National Office, representatives from CUPEs Ottawa district council and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions joined the striking CUPE members. Other unions and labour activists also showed their support, including the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).
The boycott of board events and programming is gaining momentum. Last week, Local 175 of the United Food and Commercial Workers requested that their employer, food giant McCain, refrain from participating in board events during the strike. The Union of Taxation Employees, a division of the PSAC, has also signed on. The Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation of Labour are urging all affiliates to support the strike.
Word is spreading throughout the labour movement that the Conference Board of Canada is a no-go zone.
Updates will be posted at www.cupe.ca