On October 1, the VDLC co-organized a rally with New Westminster and District Labour Council, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 213 to mark the two year anniversary of the Ledcor Telecommunication Services strike.
LTS workers have been fighting for a fair first collective agreement. Several speakers from different unions and labour organizations spoke in solidarity with the LTS workers and to demand that the federal government act to end the dispute and fix the Canada Labour Code.
The following are remarks made by VDLC President Stephen von Sychowski.
My name is Stephen von Sychowski, I’m the President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council.
We bring together affiliated unions here in Vancouver and in neighboring municipalities, representing approximately 60,000 union members.
We’re very proud to count your local, IBEW 213 among them.
I want to thank everyone for being here today, and especially all of the speakers and our co-organizers NWDLC and IBEW 213.
I’ve said it before at other rallies and picket line visits and I say it again, we stand with you 100%.
It is unacceptable that any employer would act the way that LTS has over the course of the past several years.
It is especially shameful when it is a large and well resourced employer who could easily do the right thing, but chooses not to.
We know it hasn’t been easy being out here all this time, and we thank you for doing it, because it is so crucial that even when an employer uses every dirty trick in the book, even when they throw their all of their resources and do everything they can to undermine your right to join a union we don’t back down. We don’t walk away from the fight.
That’s the message we have to send to employers as a movement if we want to win long-term.
But there are supposed to be checks and balances in place to protect against this kind of behaviour.
Our labour code is supposed to provide the mechanisms for workers to freely exercise their right to join a union.
But that labour code isn’t working
Worse, in the face of clear evidence that it isn’t working the response from the federal government has been inaction.
Your union has been calling for on the federal government to intervene and ensure that the spirit of the code is upheld, that you are able to access your rights in practice and not just in theory.
Both of the labour councils represented here today have joined that call.
Still, the government has sat on its hands. The game is rigged, and the referee is asleep.
They sat on their hands while Ledcor utilized scab labour to undermine your strike, while they engaged in unfair labour practices.
They say on their hands while the employer refused to bargain in good faith.
They took no action when asked to provide for a binding arbitration process to end this strike and secure a collective agreement.
We just went through a federal election where all the major parties promised the sky and pitched themselves as defenders of working people.
The reality is that successive governments, whether Liberal or Conservative, have failed to act to implement anti-scab legislation, and to close the loopholes that undermine the exercise of workers rights.
The reality is that time after time throughout the years, NDP bills to strengthen workers right have been voted down by these two parties time and again.
Well, it’s a new parliament and its time to once again demand that the platitudes we heard for five weeks of election campaign are made good on.
The government can and must act quickly and meaningfully to help end this dispute and avoid future ones like it
We will continue to stand with your union in making those demands and in calling for LTS to return to the bargaining table in good faith.
But whatever happens, know that your fight, though difficult, is just.
We are with you for a fair contract now!
Image credit: BC Building Trades.