HEU condemns back to work legislation
Victoria, school employers complicit in derailing talks, union charges The Hospital Employees' Union today condemned Premier Ujjal Dosanjh's back to work legislation that forced thousand of public school support staff to end their strike without a settlement of their demands for a fair and equitable contract. "This dispute wasn't about the government needing to intervene because the two sides weren't able to reach an agreement," says Zorica Bosancic, spokesperson for the 45,000 member Hospital Employees' Union. "It was about a bargaining process that was designed by school board employers to be doomed from the start. And in our view, Victoria has been complicit in its failure." "The time for the NDP to take action wasn't yesterday, it was months ago when employers began their efforts to derail talks." Bosancic paid tribute to the efforts of CUPE school board workers across the province and said HEU will continue to support their efforts to achieve both a fair settlement and a more effective province-wide collective bargaining structure. "The decision to take job action is never taken lightly by public sector workers who provide important services to the public. We understand the pain, anger and frustration that school board workers are going through as they return to work today." Bosancic says her union is particularly wary of how Dosanjh and his advisers have dealt with public school bargaining. "By failing to address a clearly dysfunctional bargaining structure, the Premier is playing right into the Liberal agenda to severely curtail school board workers' right to strike," she said. "Actions like this threaten to create a Bob Rae-style relationship between Victoria and public sector unions here in B.C. That's a road our union will urge government not to go down." As the NDP Premier of Ontario earlier in the 1990s, Rae consciously attacked public sector unions in the province, a move that poisoned the long standing close relationship between labour and the NDP, weakened the party, and paved the way for the election of the right-wing government of Mike Harris.