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April 4, 2000, BurnabyBarry ONeill, President of BCs largest unionCUPE BC, made it clear today that it will be CUPE members, at their annual convention in June 2000, who will vote on continued affiliation with the NDP and the unions relationship with this government. In addition he indicated that local affiliations will be reviewed at the local level.

ONeill called upon the BC Federation of Labour and all its affiliates to begin discussions immediately on relationships between Labour in BC and both the party and the government.

“It is hard to face your party being hijacked by some of its most influential membersthose who represent your party as the government of the day.” said.ONeill “But that is exactly what we are facing with the events of the last few days.”

ONeill made it clear that MLAs who voted in favour of legislating special needs assistants, school janitors, bus drivers and crossing guards “should no longer consider CUPE members their loyal supporters or even supporters at all.”

CUPE members in BC and school workers in particular have been shafted and humiliated by all the MLAs who voted in favour of legislating school support staff back to work because they should have revolted at the lack of action before the strike became inevitable.” For ONeill and CUPE BC that includes Gordon Wilson whom the union supported publicly during the recent NDP leadership convention and Evans to whom CUPE gave its support after Wilson stepped down.

ONeill said, “CUPE reserves a particular sense of betrayal for the Minister of Labour who promised, then refused to deal with an intolerable bargaining situation. As a former labour representative she fully understood the impact of wage controls on the collective bargaining process, yet did nothing to minimize the inevitable impasses that would be reached at local tables.”

The CUPE BC President also singled out the current Minister of Finance (former Minister of Education) for particular criticism,” The Minister has been closely involved with this issue since it began 18 months ago and still he failed to act until his actions were to silence those who have worked long and hard on maintaining the public school system in this province.”

“Finally” said ONeill, “Our new premier can claim the role as manager of this mess since he rejected or allowed his Minister of Labour and his Minister of Finance to reject proposed solutions time after timethat could well have prevented a strike, let alone legislation that has made a mockery of collective bargaining in the public sector.”

Barry ONeill did not make comments on the government appointed Industrial Inquiry Commission, since those details do not yet exist.


Louise Leclair, Communications Representative

(604) 291-1940 or (604) 454-4711 (c)

Regular information updates regarding CUPE K-12 Sectoral Bargaining can be found at: www.cupe.bc.ca/sbc

April 4, 2000

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