Labour Day 2018: Overcoming Challenges Through Solidarity
Today we recognize and celebrate Labour Day across BC and Canada. Over the course of almost 150 years, we have seen that when working people organize for better working conditions, quality of life for everyone in our society improves. Change may not be easy, but the gains achieved – reasonable working hours, the right to bargain collectively, the weekend, and paid maternity leave – have raised the standard of living in Canada for decades. However, an increase in low-wage, precarious work put these gains at risk. Now more than ever, we need to organize and stay united to insist on employment that gives every working person the dignity they deserve: a living wage and a balanced life.
We know this can be done. In 1983, union members, activists, and people from all walks of life joined together in a coordinated opposition to the devastating cuts proposed by the Social Credit government of the day. In July 1983, the government tabled 26 acts of legislation which attacked human, civil, and labour rights. The bills gave the government the ability to fire government employees without cause, rescind collective bargaining rights such as the ability to schedule overtime, and abolished the Human Rights Branch and Human Rights Commission. Operation Solidarity brought together working people in opposition to these cuts through a series of protests and strikes, and 5 months after the regressive legislation was introduced, labour peace was restored with the signing of the Kelowna Accord.
Operation Solidarity demonstrates what is possible when political, social, and labour action are combined. Here at FPSE, we know this to be true. You and your colleagues have made progress in difficult rounds of collective bargaining, contributed to the last year’s change in government, and participate in all manner of social justice movements. With public sector agreements expiring next spring, we’ll continue to work together at the bargaining table with our first round of bargaining with this government. By remembering the lessons of the past, we’ll be better prepared to make the most of our upcoming negotiations.
This Labour Day, we’ll join with other unions, educators and families from the Lower Mainland at the PNE Labour Day celebration. I encourage you to drop by a Labour Day event organized by your local Labour Council to celebrate with others in your community as we work together to create a more fair and just province.
Happy Labour Day!
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.