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Gordon Campbell and his Liberals have launched an unprecedented attack on working people in British Columbia. He is using his huge legislative majority to smash collective agreements and to open the door to contracting our work out to his business pals.

Make no mistake: this is an attack on us both as trade unionists and as citizens. It is an attack on health, social services and education in our communities. It is an attack on democracy in British Columbia.

There were three pieces of legislation introduced in the Legislature. On Monday we will send you a more detailed summary. For now, however, you should know the following:

Bill 27 imposes a contract on teachers with three annual increases of 2.5 per cent.

Bill 28 strips both K-12 teachers and teachers in our colleges and institutes of contract language governing the size of classrooms. It also strips our CUPE education assistants of bumping rights when special needs students are involved. It also contemplates the possibility of year round schooling.

Bill 29 attacks both health care workers and social service workers. The Accord which granted wage parity pay increases and layoff protection to social service workers has been ripped up. Collective Agreement protections for employment security have been eliminated.

Bill 29 removes from contracts any language that might protect our bothers and sisters in the Health Services Division of CUPE (HEU) from having their work contracted out. It eliminates the protection of the Employment Security and Labour Force Adjustment Agreement - an agreement that gave HEU members protection from layoff.

More details will be provided Monday but keep this in mind. All this is being done to pay for tax cuts. Much more than half of those tax cuts went either to business or to BC’s top income earners. Now the people who work in our schools, colleges, hospitals and community serving agencies are paying the price. This is just the first step. Expect more attacks on working people to come.

In solidarity,

Barry O’Neill