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Hospital workers and supporters streamed through Vancouver last Tuesday to protest Bill 29, the BC legislation passed a year ago that shredded the collective agreements of thousands of health care and social service workers.

Up to 4,000 boisterous CUPE members and their allies rallied to send a clear signal to employers and the Campbell government that they will not give up their job security without a fight.

Today its health care and social services, National President Judy Darcy told the rally. Next they will come after our jobs in municipal services, in schools, in every corner of the public sector. They must be stopped.

Earlier in the day, CUPE health care workers, members of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU), set up picket lines at about 25 health facilities across the province. Essential services were ensured, but others who crossed the line were given a leaflet and asked for their support.

HEU members showed courage and demonstrated their commitment to protecting public health care and fighting the governments agenda of cuts, closures and privatization, said HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt.

Other protests around the province included a peaceful occupation of the Vancouver Island Health Authority offices in Victoria. A number of protesters were arrested including one HEU activist.

As a result of the collective actions, employers had agreed to face-to-face talks with HEU on February 14. But the employers association has since backed out of the talks.

Calling the decision a real setback, Allnutt said HEU will be holding emergency meetings across the province to talk with members about increasing pressure on government and employers for a negotiated solution to the current crisis.