If the business community won't speak up to save jobs in the Okanagan, then the labour movement will, declared North Okanagan Labour Council President David Doran.
But the fight to save jobs and protect working standards is getting tougher, not easier, as the Liberal reign in B.C. continues, added Doran.
"Attacks on working people and their paycheques are becoming more and more severe with legislation such as Bill 29 putting British Columbians out of work," added Doran, who was re-elected NOLC president at the organization's annual general meeting in Kelowna on Feb. 4.
Under Bill 29, health-care facilities all over the province, including several long-term care homes in the Okanagan, are firing workers, ripping up their contracts, then hiring less-skilled workers at roughly half the salaries.
"No one wins when workers are fired like this," said Doran. "The workers obviously lose, the residents suffer a drop in care levels, and the local economy suffers as decent-paying wages are replaced with wages barely above the minimum wage.
Doran said business organizations, such as Chambers of Commerce, have been silent about the loss of jobs in their communities under the B.C. Liberals.
"Where were the Okanagan Chambers as health-care employers were slashing jobs and wages?" asked Doran.
"And where were the Kelowna and Westbank Chambers when Mission Hill winery owner Anthony Von Mandl laid off 55 bottling line workers and moved the work out of province?"
"Someone has to speak up for jobs in this region and the North Okanagan Labour Council will pick up the slack the best we can," said Doran.
The NOLC has urged Windsor Manor to reconsider its decision to lay off 50 workers and the council also supported the Brewery Workers in their battle with Mission Hill.
"We are not optimistic Windsor Manor will listen, but someone's got to try," said Doran.
That's also why the NOLC last month let the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers' Union know its actions in December were appreciated by Okanagan labour delegates.
"The ferry workers stood up to the government and B.C. Ferries' plans to cut their jobs and slash their wages," said Doran. "It was a brave stand."
Also elected at to the NOLC executive were Ron Bobowski, Jeff Carsience and Glenn Nowag as vice-presidents, Judi Filion as secretary-treasurer, Pat Bulmer recording secretary, Trudy Ames sergeant at arms, Louise Turner and Karen Abramsen as northern and southern representatives, respectively, and Kathy Dunn as trustee.
The NOLC represents about 10,000 unionized workers in the North and Central Okanagan. It meets monthly with meetings alternating between Vernon and Kelowna. The next meeting is March 10 at the Village Green Hotel in Vernon, beginning at 7 p.m.