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President’s message – Global Climate Strike - BCGEU

Like many of you I'm inspired by the passion and perseverance of Greta Thunberg and student activists across the world who have worked so hard and so fast to put the climate crisis at the forefront of the public agenda and hold politicians accountable for their lack of action to prevent or mitigate it. 

I want you to know your union recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for decisive action to save our planet. You have told us through numerous convention resolutions and our recent survey on the issues that matter to you during this federal election, that the environment, global climate change and the sustainability of our planet are top priority. 

That's why I'm not surprised at the number of questions I've received about your union's support for our participation in Global Climate Strike events. As you probably know, from September 20-27 millions of people of all ages across the globe will walk out of classrooms, workplaces and homes to join Greta Thunberg and other young activists in protest events to support climate justice. 

I want to be clear that the BCGEU supports the push for climate justice and stands in solidarity with the young activists who are driving this movement. But I also want to be clear about two particular ways that Global Climate Strike events may impact members:

  • Members who want to participate in protest events. Although the term "strike" is part of the movement's public relations, it's vital that union members understand these protest events are not considered legal strikes under the BC Labour Code; and, therefore, there is no legal mechanism to protect members who choose to participate during their regular work hours. If you intend to participate in a protest event during regular work hours, please advise your union.
  • Members whose worksite is picketed as part of protest events. Members who encounter a picket line at their worksite are expected to exercise their collective agreement and Charter rights to respect that picket line. The only exception is picket lines that have been deemed illegal by the Labour Board and are subject to an injunction. Members who encounter picket lines at their worksite should immediately contact their steward or area office for accurate information about how to proceed.

I want to thank all of you who have contacted me, Paul or any other BCGEU member to express your support for the student-led protests and seek advice about participation. It's critical that members are fully informed when deciding how to act and react during these protests and your union is here to help!

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith