On the Importance of a Unified Labour Movement in BC
As you may know, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are currently voting on whether to remain a key and vital part of our BC labour movement. LPNs have played a vital and positive role in BC’s labour movement going back to the 1940s.
Within their unions – the Hospital Employees Union, the BCGEU, and the IUOE – LPNs have played a part in key struggles in our collective history, including fighting for pay equity, pensions, EI, and Medicare. The wins LPNs worked with us to achieve have benefited all working people in our province.
Most recently LPNs’ unions cooperated to fight Bill 29 – which eliminated collective agreement provisions for health care workers and paved the way for massive job losses and privatization—all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The decision in that case established collective bargaining as our Charter-protected right.
But now COPE 378, along with other unions in BC are concerned due to the the BC Nurses Union’s attempt to “raid” the LPNs from the other health care unions. Raiding divides us as a movement and fails to recognize that we are all fighting for the same goals: improvements in our jobs and workplaces and a more fair and equal society for all.
The raid has meant the BCNU and its members have been excluded from participation in important activities, including top-level meetings of the Canadian Labour Congress. They have also been ejected from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions – deepening their isolation from nurses across Canada. We are saddened by this isolation but believe the movement has been justified sending a strong message that this kind of raiding is a symbol of not wanting to work in the greater movement for the greater good, and that it cannot be condoned.
So many of the challenges COPE 378 members and their families face today require united action across social justice movements. We need to protect our rights to bargaining and job action, ensure our pensions are secure, and stand up for public services and strong social programs. We encourage LPNs to think about the history and future of the labour movement when casting their votes. We urge LPNs to reject the raid and to work with us in BC and across Canada.
For more information please visit the HEU or BCGEU LPN websites:
And check out this important video from LPNs to LPNs: