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    Support Locked Out Telus Workers

    Labour Unions United Against the Corporations Offensive

    By Brennan Luchsinger
    On August 25th 2005 the Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC) called a joint picket in support of the locked-out Telus Workers and striking Canadian Media Guild (CMG) workers. The rally saw large support from many labour unions, and community groups, showing that the public is behind these workers and their struggle against the anti-working class measures being forced onto people in BC by employers, and the BC Liberal government.

    Fire This Time was in the crowd in support of striking workers on August 25th, and would like to print these two speeches to support the important struggles of the TWU, and CMG. VDLC president Bill Saunders delivered the first speech and the second speech is by Telecommunication Workers' Union president Bruce Bell.

    Bill Saunders
    President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC)

    This is a very difficult dispute with a very intransigent employer. Now they think they have the top hand here, and they think that they can drag these employees down. We're here to say that that's not going to happen! We all know that the benefits of a company don't go to the management, OK, the workers are entitled to a fair and equal portion of the benefits. This company is after these workers' contracts, contracts that they've struggled for for many years, and we need to support them now because this is a difficult dispute that they're in and it looks like it's going to be a long one.

    So there's a few things that you can do to help these people. Number one, if you've got those kinds of services that are optional on your telephone, you should be getting rid of them. They're the kind of services that make a lot of money for these kinds of guys, and actually you don't really need them. So get rid of those extras, that's call answering, call forwarding, all that kind of stuff. And if this disputes going to go on for a little bit longer, then we may be looking at doing other things and you should prepare for those kinds of things. If you're getting your internet service from Telus you may think about a time that'll come that you may be asked to change that provider.

    We've got our supporters in other unions, but the most important thing you can do is show public support. It's very easy to get demoralized on a picket line that goes on day in and day out. That's why we're here today, and we ask you that you would show up on the picket line from time to time, to express solidarity with these workers. To adopt resolutions in your locals that support these workers, and write to the CRTC, write to the Telus management, and express your opinion about what you think of their lack of service, at the same time that they're collecting your fees. So these are the kind of things that we can concretely do to help, and we ought to do that. Now before we move on, this is just a support picket, it's not a rally. The big rally is on Labour Day Monday, it's up at the boot at Swanguard stadium, and we really hope that you come out for that. It's very very important that this year on Labour Day that we not have a quiet labour day.

    Now let's see if we can show the kind of iron clad solidarity that's going to win these disputes. That means coming out to this rally on Monday. And now to tell us a bit more about what the TWU needs and wants, is the TWU president Bruce Bell.

    Bruce Bell
    Telecommunications Workers' Union President

    I'd like to thank everyone here, and as Bill [Saunders] has said, this is a solidarity picket line, because that's what we need, we need the solidarity. What's going on in Canada here, starting here on the west Coast is shameful! Shame on them! That's easy to see, and that's easy to say. Shame on this company for what they are doing. They're trying to break this union, and break the labour movement, but we won't let them do that will we! No we won't! So just look at Telus' actions after 4 and a half years they never wanted to bargain a collective agreement. They rejected it! But we're close to getting back to the table, and getting back to the table they will be doing. We want to go there with a special mediator, because there's no bargaining with this company unless we have one. We plan to do that, and that should be in probably early to mid-September. That'll be the plan, get back to the table, and get the best agreement that we can and bring it out to the membership most of you folks, for a vote. So we need your solidarity, we need your ongoing solidarity, because that's what wins the day.

    Now Bill has talked about the rally, we need lots of people to come out. It'll be right in front of the boot, 12 o'clock September the 5th, be there for CBC workers, be there for those workers, be there for the Telus workers. We'll all be there together. So let's have a good rally, it'll be about an hour. There'll be a few speakers, about five or six, there'll be some music, and then we'll go off to the Labour Day picnic at 1:30. So we'll see you all there, and I think we're going to be headed down to the CBC picket now.

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