Angry CUPE members ready to defy government

BURNABY — Many angry and fed up CUPE members plan to walk off the job Friday in protest of the B.C. Liberal government’s regressive legislation against hospital workers.

“Go, go, go is what our members are saying to us,” CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill said. “We are telling those that are not at work to join the Hospital Employees’ Union protest lines, but we know that many of our members are ready to walk off the job as early as tomorrow (April 30).”

Some employers have been threatening CUPE members, but this has made them even more defiant against a government that has continued to provoke working people. They are incensed at the government’s unfair intrusions into free collective bargaining.

“This is a protest to support workers who are facing wage discrimination,” O’Neill added. “These mostly women workers whose wages are being treated unfairly rolled back.”

The government has been portraying them as overpaid. “Let’s be clear about who the government is picking on. These are women workers who are traditionally at the bottom of the wage scale in health care. They won pay equity through a strike in 1992. That ended wage discrimination in the sector. Now the Liberals want to take it away.”

The government has said clients are suffering because of their actions. “But these workers are the very people who help treat those clients,” he said. “How will slashing their wages by 15 per cent lead to better health care? How will firing them and hiring contract employees at much lower wages be good for clients?

“This is an attack on public service workers who don’t have the clout of others in the health care system,” he said. “As usual with the B.C. Liberals’ privatization scheme, they are going after the weakest and tossing their jobs to the lowest corporate bidder.”

“We are proud of our members for standing up against this injustice and for supporting HEU members,” O’Neill said. “This government doesn’t negotiate, it legislates. This is unfair by any standard and CUPE members will always fight against unfairness and discrimination.”