ABBOTSFORD—BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger, along with CUPE BC General Vice-President Dal Benning and Fraser Valley Regional Vice-President Paul Albrecht, brought messages of solidarity and support to locked out workers at Southern Railway’s Huntingdon property here on Sunday afternoon.
Before a small, rain-soaked gathering hosted by CUPE 7000 president Bill Magri, Lanzinger pledged the BC Fed’s support to the 126 locked out workers, saying she will encourage affiliates to send letters to Southern Railway urging them to get back to the bargaining table.
“We really have to fight this agenda, of driving down wages and benefits, that we see all over the place. And I want to thank you for being on this picket line to fight this fight,” said Lanzinger.
“We can all give in, and we can all agree that things get worse. But we really support and admire the workers who are willing to put their salaries on the line to say no—that we’re not going to let things get worse for workers. We want the next generation of workers to have the same benefits that we have—benefits won because of unions sticking together to fight for these things.”
Benning, bringing greetings on behalf of President Mark Hancock and Secretary-Treasurer Paul Faoro, said that CUPE BC and its 85,000 members are solidly behind the CUPE 7000 workers locked out by the company. He reminded the crowd that Southern Railway cannot call itself a “small local company.”
“The Washington Group [that] owns Southern Rail—they’ve got money,” he said. “Six meetings in six months to negotiate a deal is disappointing. It’s actually quite tragic.”
Albrecht brought greetings on behalf of the Fraser Valley District Council.
“We’re behind you one hundred per cent. No concessions, and no reduction or erosion of benefits or wages of any kind, are acceptable to any CUPE worker under any circumstances,” said Albrecht, urging Southern Railway to get back to the bargaining table.
For photos, visit the gallery.