Solidarity with Port Metro Vancouver’s Striking Workers

Port Metro Vancouver exposed their true colors in their efforts to exploit
workers & suppress protest. Rising Tide stands in solidarity with
container truckers striking against Port Metro Vancouver.

Truckers, unionized and non-unionized, came together last Monday to
picket Port Metro Vancouver because of concerns over “intolerable
economic conditions.” While the standard pay for B.C. truckers is $23 an
hour, truckers moving cargo for Port Metro Vancouver are paid a meager
$15.59 an hour and many of them do not have a union to represent them.
According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives living wage in
Metro Vancouver is no less than $19.62 an hour.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Port stated, “Facing the prospect
of continued disruption of port operations by disgruntled container
truckers, Port Metro Vancouver is taking immediate steps to enhance the
safety of the port for working truckers.” Port Metro Vancouver filed a
lawsuit against the United Truckers Association, claiming that striking
workers damaged property and threw rocks, although no charges have been
laid.

We would like to remind the public of similar accusations made against the
Santa-Coal protesters who staged a peaceful protest at the Port Metro
Vancouver offices last December. Afterwards, Port Metro Vancouver released
a statement falsely claiming that the protesters threw coal at workers.
The Port asserted then that its concern was for the safety of workers, but
now they would paint all striking workers with the same brush.

The legal tactic being adopted by the Port (suing in civil court) can lead
to the criminalization of workers’ right to protest. This is what the
Province of BC did on behalf of the American Sea to Sky developers, when
they wanted to remove financially inconvenient protesters from the Eagle
Ridge Bluffs. As a result, activist elders Betty Krawzcik and Harriet
Nahanee were charged and jailed for contempt of court. In spite of the
court’s knowledge of Harriet’s frail health, she died after two weeks in a
Surrey detention centre. To criminalize protesters is to subject them to
systemic violence.

We recognize that these actions against striking workers are part of a
concerted effort by Port Metro Vancouver to criminalize and defame
opposition to its exploitative activities. It is clear that the Port acts
not in the interest of workers or even the public, but in the interest of
moneyed private investors.

Corporations and their subservient government agencies, with their
unsustainable economic agendas, rely on the ability to exploit human
labour and natural resources. The struggles of workers and the struggles
of environmental justice are linked, as government and corporations rely
on the weakness and complicity of labour to push through exploitative
resource extraction projects.

As grassroots activists who understand that the rights of all workers and
communities need to be aligned with the defense of our air, water and
earth, we condemn all efforts to criminalize protest, whether of labour, environmentalists or Indigenous land defenders. We condemn all attacks
against unions and demand that both the rights of workers to fair
livelihoods and public grievances about destructive resource exports be
taken seriously by Port Metro Vancouver and the BC provincial government.
We encourage people to show their solidarity with striking workers by
joining the picket at Port Metro Vancouver.

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