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Walking the line on labour's day

On Labour Day, while most people across the province enjoy a long weekend and a family picnic, workers at six locations will be on the picket line. One of the active disputes supported by the B.C. Federation of Labour has been under way for over a decade, and at another, workers have been locked out by their employers for over a year.

The longest running dispute on the Fed's website has been ongoing since July 25, 2001. The Labourers' Union has been on strike there over benefits and concession demands from the employer, Wescon Enterprises Ltd of Armstrong, B.C. for over eleven years.

Another lengthy dispute sees Teamster local 31 faced off against The Great Canadian Railtour Company (Rocky Mountaineer Vacations), where the politically well connected management has taken advantage of a legal loophole to lock out its unionized on-board attendants and replace them with scabs recruited on Craig’s List. On Labour Day, the onboard attendants will have been locked out for 439 days.

In Chilliwack, the United Steelworkers local 2009 has also seen its members locked out, in this case by Gillwood Manufacturing, since March of this year. The issues in this lockout are employer demands for concessions, job security, wages and hours of work.

More recently, the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, local 378 struck the Insurance Corporation of B.C. on June 28, with benefits and wages cited as the main issues. Local 378 has also struck the University of B.C. Alma Mater society over benefits and wages, with the strike called on July 13.

The BCGEU has been in position to strike against the provincial government since July 2, and has so far restricted job actions to small local work stoppages this summer. On September 5, however, as recently reported in the Tyee, the union is taking more than 27,000 members of BCGEU and allied unions out on a province wide work stoppage, saying that the employer “is not listening.” Members, say the BCGEU leadership, have lost ground to inflation after receiving no wage gains at all in 2010 and 2011.

Tom Sandborn covers labour and health policy news for the Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at tos@infinet.net

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