In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer). Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1983. Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.
Some context for this week’s question: After the election of Bill Bennett and a Social Credit government in 1983, Bennett’s party introduced a series of bills that quickly became controversial. Of particular concern to the BC Government Employees Union (BCGEU) were Bill 2, which limited the rights of workers and unions in the public sector to negotiate terms except for wages and benefits, and Bill 3, which gave public sector authorities the power to terminate workers without cause and regardless of seniority. Despite organized opposition to these moves (including an estimated 80,000 person demonstration in Vancouver), these and other bills were passed. At midnight on October 31, 1983, about 40,000 members of the BCGEU went on strike, demanding the government retract Bill 2 and provide an exemption from Bill 3.
Question: How has the BC Government Employees Union strike affected you?
Donna Liakakos – Village Store Manager – Alpine Meadows
If the schools go out everyone with children will be affected. I don’t care about the liquor store, but there could be trouble if road conditions worsen. In Vancouver there’s more awareness about the strike than here because more jobs are affected.
John Ryan – Store Security Worker – Vancouver
Not apart from the liquor store, although if the buses go it’ll be a hassle to go to work. People get laid off all the time but when it happens to big unions they act differently. It seems kind of quiet here – we’ve seen a few pickets, and the exercise class is cancelled.
Joe Bowman – Waiter – Pemberton
Not at all. I’ve seen some pickets. They (strikers) should have done it 10 years ago: shut it down and take a better look at it. It’s got to be done now. The thing to do is to provide jobs. The government has been hired as managers; if we don’t have tenure they shouldn’t either.