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National President Paul Moist is in British Columbia today to bring a strong message of solidarity and support to striking teachers and the thousands of CUPE members who are standing with them.

CUPE is proud to stand with teachers in their fight,” said Moist. “We deplore the disrespect and arrogance of this government and will not tolerate its assault on workers’ rights to free and fair collective bargaining.”

All this week, CUPE members who work in municipalities, libraries, universities and colleges, recreation and other areas have been walking off the job in “tools down” protests across B.C. Tomorrow, it’s the Lower Mainland’s turn, with major protests organized for Surrey and Vancouver.

CUPE BC will host rallies Friday at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver and at Stetson Bowl in Surrey. Moist will join with Jinny Sims, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, Barry O’Neill, president of CUPE BC, and Judy Darcy, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union. The Vancouver PNE rally is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the Surrey Stetson Bowl rally is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

CUPE members across the province have been mobilizing in support of teachers since they walked off the job Oct. 7 to protest a bad contract forced upon them by legislation, not reached through negotiation. Honouring teacher picket lines, CUPE school board workers immediately bolstered teachers’ resolve. And now with thousands of CUPE workers in other sectors joining in, the union has sent an undeniable message to the Campbell government: collective bargaining is a right and we will stand and fight for it.

Moist will be reinforcing other picket lines this weekend as well. A Calgary visit will shore up the lines of striking workers at ABS Calgary Casino. They have been on strike since Sept. 23, with wages being the major issue. Most employees earn between $7 and $9 an hour.

And Vancouver health care workers on strike against the poverty-level wages paid by French multinational Sodexho will also see Moist supporting their lines. Health care support services workers, on strike since Sept. 15, are fighting back against the company’s profiting off the privatization of public sector jobs. Details of that visit will be announced shortly.