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VICTORIA Hundreds of students and workers, including many CUPE members, barricaded the University of Victoria on Monday to protest against the Campbell Liberals on the opening day of the B.C. provincial legislature.

The shut down was part of a city-wide Day of Defiance against the Liberal agenda of cuts and privatization.

We are here today to tell this government to stop destroying the futures of thousands of students and young people, CUPE BC president Barry ONeill told media on the picket line at UVIC. We are here to say we dont want the kind of society they have planned for us.

ONeill praised the protesters for taking the serious action. He cited the 30 per cent tuition fee hike, child care cuts and the lowering of the minimum wage to $6 as huge barriers to their chances as the future workforce of British Columbia.

If this government has its way, there wont be a decent-paying public sector job in the province for these young people when they graduate, he said. They will all be privatized with drastically reduced wages and little or no union protection.

The day was organized by the Communities Solidarity Coalition, a grouping of dozens of local organizations representing seniors, the poor, First Nations, students, workers and others.

During the 2 -hour protest, many students stopped to talk with protesters. Some chose to join the barricade. A few confronted pickets but were quickly engaged in serious debate about the educational barriers the Liberals have erected.

The barricades, set up at 6:45 a.m., were lifted at 10 a.m. when thousands of students began to pour through the eight blocked entrances.

Protesters then joined about 3, 500 people in a snake march through the downtown area and on to the legislature for a rally that featured a pia00740061 of Gordon Campbell.

The puppet image was battered to pieces at the culmination of the rally, symbolizing the anger and frustration that the public feels for the governments community-destroying agenda.

Womens groups, human rights activists, environmentalists, pensioners and other community groups played a major role in the days success.

CUPE, the Hospital Employees Union, the B.C. Government Employees Union, the Victoria Labour Council and many other labour bodies also assisted.