Representatives of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, New Westminister and District Labour Council, and BC Federation of Labour as well as various affiliated unions, rallied in support of IBEW 213 today.
Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 213 have been on picket lines in Vancouver and Port Coquitlam for over 160 days fighting for a fair first collective agreement. Today the labour movement reiterated its ongoing support for their struggle and said #ShameOnLedcor.
The following remarks were made by VDLC President Stephen von Sychowski at the rally:
My name is Stephen von Sychowski. I’m President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, representing approximately 60,000 unionized public and private sector workers in the Vancouver area.
I bring greetings of solidarity from our delegates and our Executive Board, many of whom are here today.
For months now members of IBEW Local 213, a union we are proud to have as an affiliate of our council, have been standing up for a fair first collective agreement.
You’ve been walking this picket line, and the one in Port Coquitlam. You’ve been tracking scabs and setting up roving picket lines. You’ve been fighting at the Labour Board and getting your message out to the labour movement and the general public.
We all know that first agreements can be tough. But Ledcor had options. They made a choice.
They could have shown respect for their hard-working employees, sat down at the bargaining table, and negotiated a fair deal.
Instead, they have forced you out onto picket lines for months, through the cold of Winter, through the holiday season, and on into Spring.
Instead, they have hired scab labour to perform your work during this dispute.
That’s why we are here today to say that the labour movement stands in solidarity with you.
We’re here with you to say Shame on Ledcor!
And why is this large, profitable company so afraid to simply get down to business and make a deal?
Why are they prepared to cause so much disruption to their business and to your lives?
For sure we know that a strong consideration in these kinds of situations is always the bottom line, even when there is no shortage of ability to pay the costs of a fair agreement.
But we shouldn’t fool ourselves that it’s ever only about money.
At the end of the day, when a company like Ledcor puts up a fight like this against union representation and against a fair deal it’s not just about the bottom line, it’s about power.
They don’t want workers realizing and exercising the enormous power that we have when we realize that together we can make sure our voices are heard and can take collective action to improve our rights.
Moreover, they don’t want this bargaining unit at Ledcor LTS standing as an example of that power, of the potential that unions hold for workers at other Ledcor operations and across the industry as whole.
But that’s exactly what we need to do, because every worker needs a union and when you are successful at the end of this fight, you will be proof of that.
I also want to take a moment to talk about anti-scab legislation. Ledcor is only able to use scab labour to undermine your strike efforts because telecommunications work is covered by the Canada Labour Code.
Whereas the BC Labour Code prohibits the use of scab labour or as it politely referred to, “replacement workers”, there exists a glaring deficiency on this question in the Canada Labour Code.
The lack of anti-scab protections in the Canada Labour Code is a gift to greedy, anti-union employers. It undermines worker solidarity, sabotages strike action, and prolongs labour disputes.
Any politician claiming to be pro-worker or pro-union is a liar if they don’t support the introduction of anti-scab rules in the Canada Labour Code. Any such politician does not deserve the support of working people.
We need to demand that the Federal government finally act on this pressing matter and restrict employers from the dirty practice of employing scab labour.
So, thank you for being out here after all these weeks and months fighting for what’s right. The company doesn’t make its money by the efforts of its managers or Executives, its profits come from the hard work you put in every day. You have every right to stand tall in demanding a fairer share. We’re here, and we’ll continue to be here standing along with you.
Shame on Ledcor!
One day longer, one day stronger!