March 10, 2005
With Okanagan voters going to the polls at least twice this year, the North Okanagan Labour Council will be drawing attention to issues that concern its 10,000 members and many other Okanagan residents, said re-elected President David Doran.
"Even the most basic services and protections have been gutted at both the provincial and municipal levels in the zeal to reduce, deregulate, privatize and contract out," said Doran, who was elected at the NOLC's annual meeting March 9 in Vernon. "Our members want governments to start doing their jobs again Ñ and we're going to point out areas that need addressing by our local candidates."
In addition to talking issues, the NOLC will again be endorsing candidates who share its values, but will also adopt a more rigorous screening process than in the past before lending its support.
In the campaign, for the May 17 provincial election, the NOLC will urge candidates in North and Central Okanagan ridings:
-- to fight the creeping privatization of our health-care system and take a stand for a strong public health-care system.
-- to oppose the ongoing firesale of provincial assets and sending of sensitive personal information to companies based south of the border.
-- to support a minimum wage increase, elimination of the training wage and work to increase the average wage of British Columbians.
-- to honour contracts and keep promises.
-- to support a tuition freeze
-- to oppose privatization of our liquor-store system, especially since the existing government signed a pact with the BCGEU saying that's what it would do
-- to familiarize themselves with the destruction of B.C.'s apprenticeship system and push for trades-training programs that are recognized and respected both inside and beyond the province's borders.
-- to press for improved on-the-job safety and stop the gutting of health-and-safety regulations.
"While the current provincial government likes to tell us about the golden decade ahead, people hurt by the decisons of the last four years don't see their lives improving," said Doran. "Services are not being restored, workplaces are more dangerous today than they were four years ago, wages are dropping, education has suffered and our health-care system has gotten worse, not better."
In November, voters will go to the polls in municipal and school board elections and the NOLC will again be raising key issues.
The cutback mentality in Victoria seems to have filtered down to many local politicians.
"Privatizing and contracting out seems to be the ideological thing to do -- even when it's a bad deal for taxpayers -- which it usually is," Doran said. "We'll be urging local politicians to respect their employees, respect the collective bargaining process, and understand that paying workers a decent wage is good for the local economy."
Also elected at the AGM were: Trudy Ames, Ron Bobowski and Glenn Nowag as vice-presidents, Judi Filion secretary treasurer, Pat Bulmer recording secretary, Kris Bothe sergeant at arms, Louise Schwingenschloegl northern (Vernon area) representative, Karen Abramsen, southern (Kelowna area) representative and Steve Malerby, trustee.