Following some major successes in both Alberta and Ontario (including the recent endorsement by Canada’s largest regional trade union federation, the Ontario Federation of Labour), Hands Off Venezuela has begun making inroads in the British Columbia Labour Movement. The campaign was endorsed last week by both the North Okanagan Labour Council and the South Okanagan Boundary Labour Council. Both Councils made generous donations and committed to further support the campaign, by hosting a film screening in the case of the South Okanagan, and by taking the campaign back to their respective union locals in the North.
Since the 2001 election of the BC Liberals with their neo-liberal agenda, the workers of British Columbia have faced one attack after another, from devastating funding cuts and lay offs in the public sector to the gutting of the labour code and legislated contracts in all major disputes. From the BC Ferry workers to the Hospital Employees, the Telecommunications Workers, and the BC Teachers, the province’s labour movement has been thrown into struggle in recent years. But this has not made us any less aware of the struggles of our sisters and brothers around the world. On the contrary, the workers of British Columbia are more aware than ever of the global neo-liberal agenda of privatizations, contracting out, and cuts to social programs in the name of ever-increasing profit for the rich. In particular, we are following the Bolivarian Revolution, which is both an inspiration and an urgent matter for our attention and solidarity.
The Hands Off Venezuela campaign was present at the recent BC Federation of Labour Convention, distributing materials and discussing with trade unionists who wish to bring the campaign to their unions for endorsement and support. The incredibly positive response from this Convention and from the Okanagan region make us confident that this is only the beginning for the Hands Off Venezuela campaign in British Columbia.