The South Okanagan Boundary Labour Council is proud to have CUPE Local 608 as one of our more than 20 affiliates. We are well aware of the struggle of our sisters and brothers with their employer, the City of Penticton. We stand solidly in support of the statements in the Jan. 28 Penticton Western News by brother Barry O’Neill, president of CUPE BC, and in support of the working men and women of the City of Penticton.
We find it shameful that the mayor and council continue to push the privatization agenda in Penticton and further that they started and continue to bargain in the media instead of at the bargaining table. This is Bullying 101. Workers in any workplace anywhere should not tolerate this behaviour and Mr. O’Neill has underscored that point.
The labour council and its affiliates will take whatever actions are needed in support of these public-sector workers, for these workers are the heart and soul of the community and that is what our movement is all about. We cannot continue to allow our communities to be eroded by a privatization agenda introduced and nurtured by Gordon Campbell, enticing unsuspecting municipalities with a “trust me, I know what I’m doing” mantra. We know how well our public services have fared under this leadership.
Barry O’Neill is to be applauded for being a champion of building strong communities and speaking passionately about how the privatization machine has been tearing out that heart and soul in communities across the province.
And the public has not been silent on this matter, nor will they be silent any time soon. They know a mistake was made with the privatization of the South Okanagan Events Centre and that council should learn from their mistake and keep the community centre and other venues under total public control. The public will subsidize these facilities because of the “world class, personable and invaluable” (Barry O’Neill) services the public employees provide to the community.
While we are not apprised of the bargaining issues, it would appear that a commitment by the city to keep the Penticton Community Centre totally public would put the bargaining back on the rails, on to the fast track (behind closed doors) and hopefully settled peacefully, in time to open the doors of the new publicly owned and operated Penticton Community Centre.
In solidarity with CUPE Local 608, Penticton city workers.
Brent Voss, president
South Okanagan Boundary Labour Council