CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill praised CUPE members this week for the commitment and solidarity they demonstrated during the three weeks of resistance to Bill 12, the regressive legislation introduced by the BC Liberal government to strip away teachers’ bargaining rights.
“We can be very proud of the role that we played standing up for the workers and students in our public education system,” O’Neill said. “We can hold our heads high and know that in the true spirit of solidarity we were there when we were needed. And we only returned to work this week as a result of the teachers asking us to stand down.”
O’Neill added that, through collective action, CUPE has helped to set the stage for coming rounds of bargaining. The presence of CUPE members on protest lines and at rallies, particularly in the final week of the teachers’ job action, sent a clear message to the government that CUPE members intend to continue bargaining their agreements and standing up for their rights and would not be bullied into accepting legislated terms and conditions of work.
“From the first day of the teachers’ action, 25,000 CUPE school support workers were out protesting Bill 12 and the attack on free collective bargaining,” he said.
“In the last week of the action, the other 45,000 CUPE members in every region of the province joined in an historic show of support. Some members joined in spirit, as they maintained necessary services, and others joined in person, as they walked off the job for a day.
“I have never been prouder of our organization – members, leaders and staff. CUPE members from across the country gave their unanimous support for a fightback at our recent national convention. CUPE national president Paul Moist was there side by side with us and the teachers at CUPE rallies last week….We come out of this experience strong and united. I thank each and every CUPE member who stood strong with teachers and for free collective bargaining.”