PENTICTON—CUPE 608 members, Penticton municipal workers, were shocked by the layoff of five workers on April 28, the Day of Mourning. After a Core Services Review, the City ended up giving pink slips to five workers on a day honouring workers who have been killed on the job.
"I wish the City would have considered the importance of this day to workers," says CUPE 608 health and safety representative, Marlene Kantz. “They’ve turned the Day of Mourning into a Day of Disrespect." She noted that workers are celebrated and honoured only three days of the year – May 1 or May Day, Labour Day, and April 28 – the Day of Mourning.
Despite the disturbing treatment and bad news for their members, CUPE 608 went ahead with the planned ceremony at McLaren Park. The Local donated a plaque to be placed at the base of the tree planted by City Parks staff, replacing a plaque that had been damaged.
Speakers were Jim Wadden, CUPE 608 vice president, Brigid Kemp, resident of the South Okanagan Boundary Labour Council, Mayor Dan Ashton who read the Proclamation, and Marlene Kantz who emceed the ceremony.
In past years, most Councillors, city managers and the Mayor attended the Day of Mourning ceremony but only the Fire Chief and two Councillors accompanied the Mayor this year. Workers including fire fighters and the Parks crew joined members of the public in marking the deaths of 121 workers in B.C. this year.
“These layoffs and loss of service to our community are the direct result of financial pressure created by cost overruns at the South Okanagan Events Centre. This P3 facility has put Penticton in drastic debt,” CUPE 608 president Patti Finch said.
City workers were called to special meetings yesterday and managers ignored the Day of Mourning as they geared up to lay off workers.