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The Liberal government took a major swipe at workers’ rights and freedoms March 12th when it legislated an end to two strikes, and mediated bargaining at our third table, 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 BC,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.

O’Neill said the provincial labour minister gave no indication that the government was considering legislation when he met with the two parties on Monday.

O’Neill said the strike-breaking law was a sign of things to come. “Add to that UBC’s removal of already promised pay equity and contracting out of public services, and British Columbians start to get a picture of what this government is determined to do to public institutions.”

The university had, just two days earlier, failed to win an injunction against picketing by members of CUPE Locals 2278 and 2950. The locals represent about 1,600 teaching assistants and about 1,500 support staff at the university.

The strike began February 13, 2003. At the top of the list of issues for the union was protection against tuition fee increases. Meanwhile the university wanted to strip the workers’ medical benefits, among other rollbacks.

The strike-ending legislation also scuttles any chances of CUPE Local 116 – which represents maintenance staff – reaching a negotiated settlement.