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A massive show of defiance and support marked the first anniversary of Bill 29, the BC legislation that shredded the collective agreements of thousands of health care and social service workers. Bill 29 paved the way for the slashing of wages and the privatization of many health care services.

Up to 4,000 boisterous HEU/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. CUPE health care workers also set up picket lines at about 25 health facilities across the province.

Other protests around the province included a peaceful occupation of the Vancouver Island Health Authority offices in Victoria during which a number of protesters were arrested including one HEU activist. Elsewhere in the province, HEU members organized information sessions, wore black in the workplace, held rallies, marched on MLA offices and took other creative actions to mark the Bill 29 anniversary.

As a result of the collective actions, employers had agreed to face-to-face talks with HEU. But they’ve since backed away. 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.