Victoria rally draws 20,000; Island workers walk off the job to support BCTF
BURNABY, BC—Education Minister Shirley Bond will get a lesson in the ABCs of democracy tomorrow (Tuesday) when the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) holds a massive rally outside her Prince George offices demanding that the BC Liberal government repeal Bill 12 and return to the bargaining table with B.C. teachers.
The rally comes a day after a crowd of more than 20,000 gathered at the provincial legislature to support striking members of the BC Teachers’ Federation—a day that will be remembered throughout Vancouver Island as a pivotal moment in the ongoing fight for free collective bargaining in B.C.
Despite rainy weather, the large demonstration was accompanied by a massive work shutdown in Victoria and surrounding communities including Saanich, Sooke, Ladysmith and Chemainus. Municipal government, transit and a variety of regional services were shut down by working people acting in support of the assault on B.C. teachers’ collective bargaining rights in the wake of Bill 12, the legislation that prematurely terminated collective bargaining by extending the teachers’ collective agreement until June, 2006.
While thousands gathered in Victoria, CUPE members were “solid in Saanich” where most services from the pools to the dump remained shut for the day. From Nanaimo to the North Island covering Comox, Campbell River, Tofino, Gold River and Port Alice, stories of tremendous support were reported from CUPE picket lines. And in Powell River, managers brought coffee and doughnuts to the protest lines. Throughout all this, CUPE members ensured that many childcare operations and all health care and social services needs were maintained.
Tuesday’s CUPE protest in Prince George follows today’s rally in front of MLA Pat Bell’s office. On October 18, CUPE Prince George members from city, school, post secondary and the regional district will walk off the job and attend a protest and street barbeque in front of Shirley Bond’s office. Special guests will be announced in the morning.
In the neighbouring Northern communities of Smithers, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, Houston, Telqua and Hazelton, CUPE members will join the teachers on their picket lines. In Mackenzie, CUPE members will also support teacher picket lines as well as hosting a Candlelight Vigil at 7:00 p.m.
CUPE communications representative