BCGEU staff rep Hemmy Hanegraaf speaks at a rally outside Castlegar City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.
By Craig Lindsay – Castlegar News
Published: March 06, 2012 2:00 PM
Updated: March 06, 2012 2:14 PM
CUPE and BCGEU workers joined local teachers and their supporters at a rally outside Castlegar City Hall today at 1 p.m.
About 50 people were on hand to hear speeches from representatives from different union organizations.
“We’re here in protest of Bill 22,” said Gerry Shmon, president of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) District Council. “This is an attack on free collective bargaining and they’re paving the road for something called a general strike. We’re hear rallying in support of the teachers but the big thing is to protest Bill 22 which has taken away free collective bargaining rights.”
Schmon said that CUPE would not call a general strike, it would have to come from the B.C. Federation of Labour. “If they (the B.C. government) keep attacking the rights of working men and women, brothers and sisters in the union movement, they’re paving the way for it,” he said.
Hemmy Hanegraaf, staff representative of the BCGEU (B.C. Government Employees Union) also spoke to the crowd.
“We’re supporting the teachers in their efforts to get a fair contract,” she said. “There’s something really wrong with a government that says if you don’t like what we’re offering you, and you choose to go on strike – we’ll simply enact legislation that makes what you’re doing illegal. Negotiate don’t legislate. People deserve an increase. We’ve sucked up way too many zeroes. Whether it’s zeroes or net zeroes, people have gone too long without a decent wage increase.”
Teachers are on strike from Monday until Wednesday. Bill 22 is government legislation that will make any teacher job action illegal.