Operation Solidarity delivered a Program of Action: an escalating province-wide walkout that would begin if the BCGEU was still on strike by November 8.
Coffee on the picket line, Patsy George
The education sector, including 30,000 teachers along with support staff and post-secondary faculty, would be the first group out. On November 10, unionized workers at the province’s Crown corporations would leave their jobs. On Monday, November 14, BC ferry workers, municipal employees and other related groups would join, and the next day, all public transit in the Lower Mainland would shut down.
Finally, at the end of the week, the province’s public health sector hospital workers would come off the job. By then, a total of 200,000 people in the province would be on strike. Private sector unions pledged to join should any public sector worker be punished for participating.
A last-minute government decision carried the plan forward. An agreement between the North Vancouver School Board and the North Vancouver teachers’ local would exempt teachers from the layoff provisions of Bill 3 – but late on November 7, the Minister of Education rejected this agreement.
Teachers had never had more than a one-day province-wide strike before, and a 60 percent strike vote and court-ordered injunctions that prevented teachers from picketing raised many doubts. Instead, something remarkable happened. Phones began ringing across the province to Coalition and union activists of all kinds: “You’re needed on the line.”
Cross Picketing, Lorri Rudland (Women Against the Budget), Ken Novakowski (Bargaining Staff, BC Teachers’ Federation), Gary Steeves (BC Government Employees Union staff, Tranquille Occupation)Cliff Andstein (Chief Negotiator, BC Government Employees Union) and Marcy Toms (teacher, community activist)
When teachers and school employees arrived on November 8th, they found their schools ringed with pickets. Almost no one crossed.
Teachers in Nelson, Herb Couch