BC FORUM News - from The Advocate, Autumn 2016
Working together for a better BC
The spirit of solidarity shone brightly as delegates participated in a lively annual general meeting of the BC Federation of Retired Union Members (BC FORUM), held at the UFCW 1518 meeting hall in New Westminster.
Retired workers, union leaders, and political leaders – including MLAs Raj Chouhan, Kathy Corrigan, Judy Darcy, Salina Robinson and Shane Simpson – debated resolutions, shared experiences, and heard featured speakers call for change. Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour and Chair of BC FORUM, captured the mood of the meeting with a call for people to stick together to bring about positive change.
“We have a (provincial) government that thinks the economy is run entirely by big business.
“We need a government that shares our values,” said Lanzinger.
“We need to think about the opportunity we will have a year from now,” she said, adding that the next election will be a chance to start building the kind of province we really need for us, and for future generations.
Lanzinger said that while the Christy Clark government was bragging about the strength of the BC economy, it clawed back bus passes for people with disabilities and gave a tax break to the richest 2 percent of British Columbians.
“The political landscape can change, and we have the power to make it happen. You are making a difference.”
Changing the world isn’t easy, she said, but it can be achieved by working together in solidarity.
“We face two enormous problems: climate change, and poverty and inequality,” she said.
To tackle climate change, labour and environmental groups are working together through Green Jobs BC to make it clear that it’s possible to have good jobs and a clean environment.
The work to implement good environmental policies and create good family supporting jobs “is so critical for future generations,” said Lanzinger.
As for poverty and inequality, she noted that unions have a key role to play. “The higher the union density, the more people who are in unions, the smaller the gap is between the rich and the poor. More people in unions means more equality.” Political pressure for change is also needed.
Many people, including older workers, are working full time and still living in poverty. That’s why the labour movement is fighting for a $15 an hour minimum wage, she said.
“We need to look after each other. We need to look after our most vulnerable citizens,” said Lanzinger and the way to get there is for ordinary people to stick together.