What I'm Reading
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Monday, October 17. 2005
As previously announced, today's BCTF union action escalated with their buddy unions jumping into the frey. I, being the eternal optimist assumed that BC Transit would be running their buses as usual because mass transit is part of the critical transportation infrastructure. It became abundantly clear that my morning bus wasn't coming, so I had to get my parents to drive me to UVic in the morning.
I later found out why transit was not running, and it really made me mad. The story is, Telus employees who have been locked out of work for a while now decided to set up picket lines at the transit bus yards. The drivers were there, but they couldn't cross the picket lines. Why on earth is Telus setting up picket lines at BC Transit? The official reason was that transit carries Telus ads on the side of the buses, therefore the union had a right to set up a picket line there to disrupt Telus' business. By that rationale, the union could have picketed television stations because they run Telus ads on TV right? Anyways, I don't buy that reason for a second.
How did this loss of transit services affect people? Well, a lot of students couldn't show up at UVic because they live too far away from UVic. One of my friend's co-workers usually takes the bus from Land's End all the way to downtown. Today, he had to bike the entire distance. Another one of my friends is a tradesman who has to bus to Langford every morning, and he couldn't get to work as he has no other means of transportation.
Anyways, I got dropped off near UVic because all of the main roads leading into UVic were blocked by more picket lines. I managed to get into campus which was supposedly closed according to the friendly union people, but it was totally open. These was quite a police presence as some guy's car got damaged as he was trying to negotiate his way through a picket line, and the cops had to be called in. That is definitely not cool. People in big mobs tend to not think and do stupid things like this.
I arrived at work soaking wet and fairly angry as expected. My parents arrived at work late. As the morning progresses, I see some fairly grumpy people as well. A bunch of staff members normally don't bring lunches to work as they eat on campus, but all the food services were shut down. One of the Deans wandered into our main office looking beleaguered, and asked if anyone could get him a coffee because all his support staff were on strike, and they normally made him coffee. That was actually pretty funny.
Today was a bad day to be in a bad mood since I had a project that had to be finished today for work. I scrammbled to finish it in the morning, and I got it down 20 minutes before the deadline. Some of you may criticize me for going into work today, but firstly, I'm not part of a union, and secondly, I am not one to drop my duties. Duty comes first.
Thankfully none of my classes were affected by the strike. One of my professors remarked that in Italy, they have strikes and such, but they're never about petty things like wages. They go on strike about important things like decisions to go to war.
When I got home, my parents told me about downtown today. The entire core was completely paralyzed because of the union protests. The business day was absolutely useless and we lost hundreds of dollars in sales. Thanks to all the unions for that one.
I was watching the news for an analysis of the day. One of the panel members said this dispute will end based on public opinion. If the government feels the electorate is on their side, then they'll stand firm. If they don't, then they'll cave in to negotiations. So it all boils down to a public relations battle, and controlling the minds and hearts of the citizens of BC. I agree with that assessment.
I'll tell you straight up that it doesn't help your case if you're disrupting my ability to get to work, disrupting my food services, and messing with my family's small business. This is not how you wage a public relations battle. You'd do a lot better diverting your union money towards advertisements illustrating your case, writing editorials to newspapers, etc.
The site that hosts the Times Colonist has an interesting poll (albeit not scientific at all) asking, "Do you think the union protest in Victoria to show support for B.C. teachers is going to help get the dispute solved?" The results are 23.3% Yes, 74.57% No, 2.22% Not Sure. How's that for public relations?
The way I see it is, we're all a bunch of pawns in this dispute between the unions and the government. We are the innocent bystanders that are getting hit. The unions are also responsible to no one for their actions. I also say to the Telus union, who are you to dictate that there will be no transit service for the city? Do you know that 90,000 freakin people rely on transit to get to downtown for work?!
Today, there are no winners, only losers.
Thank goodness transit was restored late in the afternoon, or else I would have been on campus until 7:30pm tonight.
To end off this crappy day, I lost a year's worth of bookmarks of websites because that file got overwritten for some reason.
Current mood: Angry
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"Politics: a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."
#1 Myron on 2005-10-18 08:59
Oh and now's the time to check out del.icio.us then. There's also cocalicious on os x which can be handy, and I'm sure you could find a firefox extension of some sort....
Since I now live in Alberta, and I get a 400 bonus this year, simply because I live here, hahahahaha, I also have an Albertan frame of mind. IE, if you strike, and you are not being overworked, seriouly underpaid, or beaten to do work, you should be fired and other people who want to work, should take your job.
I figure that unions don't have as much of a need anymore, since no one in Canada is being forced to work in truly miserable conditions like back in the early 1900's where people were beaten into working
#3 ~ETon on 2005-10-18 11:46
No doubt Eton....No doubt, These people signed up for the job knowing what they would be payed and agreed to it. You don't like that anymore? Then tough, quit and there are plenty of people who want the job
#4 Jordan on 2005-10-18 19:07
I mean the teachers were bad, but the ferry workers a couple of years ago was just terrable.
Makes me so angry, cause I get a degree, go to school for 5 years after high school, and some fat lazy ass bus driver makes more than I do. Garbage......
Unions are now good for only one thing, over paying people for under working.
#5 ~ETon on 2005-10-18 20:30
Shame on you guys. I don't know why you think this is all about pay. All of the teachers I have talked to say that they would be fine with no pay increase, or simply a pay increase to keep up with inflation. What this is really about is the governments refusal to allow collective bargening (a fundamental right for all Canadians... believe it or not, the UN has actually called Canada on this one, saying that they're breaking international law). I can understand how your view of this is narrow because some of you went to PCS, a private school that had the ability to cap its class sizes and charge extra on tuition so that trained workers could be hired to support teachers with special needs students... but these are now "luxuries" that the teachers of the public school system have no say in, and now no right to. I personally know teachers who have classes of 38 students. How do you controll a class of that size? How is that fair education for the students. And within that class are students with special needs and no assistence workers. Claremont, one of the "richest" public schools on the island, is so overfilled in their classes, that there aren't enough desks for the students, creating fire hazards on a daily basis. I'm assuming that you don't realize this, but if an accident in say a chemistry lab at a highschool happens, the teacher is actually legally responsible. These are horrible working conditions for our teachers, and they are hard working people. Don't give me this crap about knowing what you're getting into when you enter the job. Highschool teachers are university graduates, like you, with passion for their careers.
And one more thing. I believe it was in 2002 (I could be off a bit), that the teachers agreed to having a say over class sizes in leu of a pay increase, as part of their new contract. Do you know what happened when the next government came into power? They ripped up the teachers contract, and took away that "agreement" over a say in class sizes. The teachers got screwed, even though they had taken a pay cut. This strike is/was necessary. It's time for the government to see that it's not right for them to break the law whenever they want (or hey, why not just RE-WRITE it?) without consequence.
#6 Natalie on 2005-10-19 12:25
Well, looking at the news http://vancouver.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=bc_protest-bcgeu20051019 it appears that the Thompson-Okanagan area has been hit by strikes. Again, the Telus union has been instrumental in shutting down their transit system. Well played Telus union... well played. (The Telus workers are one of the few legal picket lines in the province these days.)
#7 CHaN on 2005-10-20 09:38
#8 ~ETon on 2005-10-20 10:42
The teachers voted on the decision to go to strike. And from what I hear, many of the ones who did not want to strike, decided not to vote at all. I'll give you that it's possible that they didn't want to expect back-lash from their peers. It's something I definitely am not looking forward to, the politics of the public school system. And I think that I can see your point of view, being sick and tired of our "please everybody" society. But there are key issues that I touched on in my original response that I don't know if you took notice of, or maybe just don't care about? The right to collective bargening, which was taken away from the teachers. This is a right for all Canadians, and should not be taken lightly (I think you can see why). And the quality of education that these students are receiving. Nice shot, by the way, on stating that because I went to PCS too (for highschool only, mind you), and so, by my statement, I must be narrow minded as well. I know that it was a harsh statement on my part, but I wanted you to think about the quality of education you received. I am VERY thankful for my experience at PCS. I think that I received a really good education from that school, one that enabled me to enter into university with scholarships. Does anyone remember how many people out of our graduating class went on to post secondary education? How many received scholarships. How many just graduated? (I think we only had one that didn't). I'm just saying we were blessed; it was a great opportunity. One that our parents chose to pay for (I know that mine made a sacrifice), and that other students won't necessariy get to experience in the public school system. School, and post-secondary school, can play a big role in how people's lives are established. How can this not be a big deal?
#9 Natalie on 2005-10-21 08:38
#10 ~ETon on 2005-10-21 11:47
When we talk about human rights it's all relative. However, I will cite from the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights as that seems to be a document that everyone will accept. The document in question is here: http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
Anyways, here's a few relevent snippets from it, and a few of my comments:
-No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
If you don't want to be part of a union, can you actually continue to work while being exempt from the union?
-Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
This is the closest thing I found about unions. No where does it state collective bargaining is a human right. The concept that collective bargaining and striking being a fundamental human right sounds a bit off. I'll cite my example of 9/11. During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the base I was working at was technically on strike. Once the attacks were underway, the government imposed a contract on the unions and ordered them back to work because national security at risk. In this case, national security trumps striking for good reason. Were these people's human rights trampled upon? I don't honestly think so.
-Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
Does shutting down a public service like mass transit violate everyone else's human rights?
-Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
This sounds like the concept of free labour and is related to our discussion.
-Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
With a strike, does this not infringe upon a child's right to education?
The other authoritative document I will refer to is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/
From reading the document, I can't see the right to collective bargaining anywhere.
In the event of conflict, the charter trumps any international directive like the UN because a sovereign country's charter governs the land, it is the last word in my opinion.
Eton, your dad being a lawyer, does he know anything about collective bargaining being a human right?
Does anyone else have documents that relate to collective bargaining being a human right? I'd love to see them and get the facts out. (My understanding of unions is not great.)
P.S. Please keep the language PG-13. The discussion is getting heated, but interesting, but please respect my younger viewers.
#11 CHaN on 2005-10-21 12:37
Chan try the BC Labour code. That is the document that governs unions and how they work in BC. It is a provence to provence thing.
#12 ~ETon on 2005-10-21 14:01
I don't have a problem keeping the language PG-13. And no thanks, I don't think I'll "grow a pair"... somehow I don't think my husband would be pleased to see them.
#13 Natalie on 2005-10-21 18:17
Well Eton, I don't think that you and I are ever going to have a "meeting of the minds" on this one, so I'm going to call it a day. I have way to many midterms/assignments/labs to worry about. Thanks for the debate! Maybe we'll have the opportunity to do it again some time.
#14 Natalie on 2005-10-21 18:23
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