2016 BC Federation of Labour Convention – Day 4

December 1, 2016

Thursday at the BC Fed 2016 convention began with the re-election of President Irene Lanzinger and Secretary-Treasurer Aaron Eckman.  We thank the for their good work over the past two years and have confidence in their leadership over the next two.

Diane Wood of the BC Federation of Retired Union Workers spoke about the work of BCFORUM and the support retired workers receive for the labour movement.  She said, “I am so proud to be in a movement that is so committed to looking after members and their communities.”

Lifeline rates
MoveUP Vice President Gwenne Farrell spoke in favour of  lifeline rates for BC Hydro.  She noted rising costs in hydro and the fact that even with rising rates we are still deferring the burden of these costs to future generations.  She also noted that while large corporate users are being subsidized, many families are currently having a hard time with rising rates.  She emphasized, “no family should have to choose between turning on their heat or feeding their family.”

Together for BC takes to the street
At noon, delegates took to the streets of downtown Vancouver to spread the message of the newly-launched Together for BC campaign.  Delegates held signs and spoke with people about how better can happen here in BC- from transit, to wages, to childcare – if we elect a progressive government in 2017.

Fight for 15
MoveUP’s Caitlin Davidson King and Kari Michaels updated delegates on the Fight for 15 campaign.  The campaign has been successful in raising the profile of the campaign for a fairer minim wage.  Davidson-King noted that “Premier Clark has chosen to leave workers in poverty.” She emphasized that changing the provincial government in 2017 is the only way we’re going to be able to make wages fairer for all and life thousands of people out of working poverty.

BC Federation of Students
Simka Marshall from the BC Federation of Students addressed delegates.  She called for the BC Fed to push the BC government for the elimination of student loan interest, and for funding to be restored to Adult Basic Education. Marshall said, “our mutual solidarity is critical for working people.  Our movements are one movement for working people.”

Young Workers Report
Caitlin Davidson-King and Kari Michaels delivered the Young Workers’ Committee report. They reported on the success of their actions from the Grant’s Law sit-in, to the Fight for 15, to the Workers’ Action Centre Project. “We will not settle for low wages, part time hours and no benefits.  We push back and we push for better than we had before.”

Milena Kollay, MoveUP Youth Action Committee Co-chair, added her voice, spoke about the importance of supporting young workers in all our workplaces.

Occupational Health and Safety Resolutions
MoveUP board member Brian Martens spoke to the poor return-to-work policies in BC.  He said, “workers want to return to work in a safe and timely way that supports recovery.”

MoveUP Vice President Annette Toth recounted the appalling statistics of BC’s workplace deaths and sub-par survivor benefits.  Noting that surveyor benefits in BC are much lower than in other Canadian jursidictions, she call for labour to “stand up for the families that are left behind when a loved one goes to work and never returns.”