9/4/07

Vancouver labor unrest multiplies

Vancouver's outside workers continued their strike on Labour Day, as Mayor Sam Sullivan said he would not push for a settlement. "I believe that if the politicians get out of the way and let the negotiators negotiate, we will come to a speedy conclusion," he told CTV British Columbia.

Sullivan had wanted the strike to end by Monday. But CUPE 1004 president Mike Jackson said talks have not gone well between the two sides, and blamed the impasse on the city's leadership. "When you ask who's driving their bus right now, I don't think any of them know, because I certainly don't know who's in charge with them," he said.

Garbage has continued to pile up since the strike began in July. And Vancouver's labour woes could soon grow worse. Another 1,400 hotel employees have voted in favour of striking, and only need to give 72-hours notice before setting up their own picket lines. Meanwhile, 7,000 coastal forest workers, represented by the United Steelworkers union, have been on strike since July 21.

The workers want better scheduling, severance and protection from contracting out.

Jim Sinclair, president of B.C. Federation of Labour, said all of the strikes are motivated by a widening prosperity gap.

"As long as the headlines that every worker picks up everyday say 'prosperity for all,' as long as we've got twice as many millionaires who are twice as rich as anybody else in the country, as long as there is a gap between people struggling to work and people at the top, then you're going to see more strikes," he said.

"We've got a right to keep up."

Jackson said Vancouver's outside workers could remain off the job for as long as needed, because the healthy economy has created a strong labour market for them to supplement their strike pay.

"In regards to a hot labour market, (CUPE 1004) deals with truck drivers, trades people, mechanics and even general labourers - we have lots of them, and they're picking up work as we speak," he said.

(ctv.ca)

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