Government betrayal an unprecedented abuse of power

Gordon Campbell is poisoning labour relations in British Columbia and plunging the province into an era of chaos, say representatives of the BC Government and Service Employees Union, the Hospital Employees Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Health Sciences Association, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1518.

The five unions, all representing workers in health care and community social services, are outraged at the Liberals wholesale attack on collective agreements. They say the tearing up of these agreements by the Campbell government will leave a black mark on the provinces international reputation and cause chaos for vulnerable people, patients, and businesses in British Columbia.

The legislation enacted by the Liberals today removes provisions in existing contracts that protect levels of service delivery.

-Our social services and health care need real stability right now, not massive instability in service and chaos for clients," says BCGEU President, George Heyman. -Campbells attack today is a chilling message to everyone in B.C., not just to labour in this province, but to the entire business community —this government cannot be trusted. This is an unprecedented abuse of power."

-The Campbell Liberals promised to protect health care and respect collective agreements," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. -But today weve learned that those commitments are worth absolutely nothing."

-Our members are angry about the direction in which this government is taking health care and community social services," says Allnutt. -But our members are also committed to fighting back against Victorias move to dismantle medicare and sell it off one piece at a time."

-Tearing up these democratically negotiated contracts will tear up our communities," says Barry ONeill, CUPE BC President. -This government is essentially acting in a lawless manner without consultation, and breaking the promises it made to the citizens of B. C. We are united as working people committed to the services we deliver."

-Todays action is a breach of trust," says HSA President, Cindy Stewart. -It demonstrates that the Campbell government has no respect for social services professionals or the services they provide."

-More than an attack on the democratic rights of health care workers to free collective bargaining this is an unprecedented attack on the elderly and infirm across the provinc," says UFCW Local 1518 President Brooke Sundin. -Literally thousands of elder citizens and those requiring care in their homes will pay a horrible price because of this legislation."

No provincial government has ever used its position to remove provisions from agreements that were freely negotiated between parties.