-- Wednesday, June 29, 2011 --
The legislation was quickly ap-proved by the Senate and given royalassent.It imposes a settlement and endsthe lockout of nearly 50,000 postalworkers that began June 14 after aseries of rotating strikes at selectedcities across the country.Angry postal workers protestedin Vancouver on Monday, denounc-ing the Conservative government’simposition of wages that are lowerthan Canada Post had offered theunion earlier in the dispute.Robert Mulvin, president of theVancouver local of the CanadianUnion of Postal Workers (CUPW),said members are “deeply disturbed”by the outcome, but will comply.“The feeling on our work ﬂoor isthat the management of [CanadaPost] has been working hand-in-hand with the Harper governmentfrom the beginning,” he said.“The employer has had no incen-tive to bargain in good faith, knowingfull well that the government wouldintervene and impose the terms of an agreement.”Workers at the Maple Ridge de-livery centre and post ofﬁce onLougheed Highway said they werelooking forward to getting back towork after being locked out by theiremployer, but said they aren’t happyabout how they are going back.“There’s deﬁnitely going to be hos-tile,” said one worker, who asked notto be identiﬁed. “There’s a lot of an-ger and frustration right now.”CUPW local 704 president CindyMcDonnell said the union may pur-sue legal action to overturn the legis-lation and allow the union to bargainwith Canada Post.“This is deﬁnitely not the end,”she said.Last Thursday, locked out postalworkers staged a sit-in at localConservative MP Randy Kamp’sofﬁce to protest the back-to-worklegislation, with a trio of workerseventually being escorted out bypolice at closing time.The NDP Ofﬁcial Oppositionfought the legislation, calling it athreat to workers’ collective bar-gaining rights, and tried to delay itas long as possible.The goal was to buy time for a ne-gotiated deal that would supersedethe one threatened through legisla-tion, but union leaders said Satur-day further talks with Canada Postwere unsuccessful.The NDP then tried to amend thebill to raise the wage levels to be im-posed, but the amendment was de-feated by the Conservative majority.An arbitrator will choose betweenthe ﬁnal offers of the two sides onnon-wage matters – a winner-take-all process CUPW denounced as bi-ased against the union.Labour minister Lisa Raitt said Ot-tawa had to intervene because of therisk of damage to the economy.The service interruption spurredmany people to switch to online billpayments or alternative deliveryservices.• The ministry encourages anyonewith questions or concerns to call1-866-866-0800.
– with ﬁles from RobertMangelsdorf and Jeff Nagel
Don’t expect any major increases to educationfunding while the province struggles to balance itsbudget, education minister George Abbott said ona tour of Maple Ridge schools Friday.And while the HST won’t make matters any easi-er in the short-term, more money isn’t the only in-gredient necessary in creating a strong educationsystem.Abbott was in Maple Ridge of Friday to tourSchool District No. 42, as well as the independentMeadowridge School.The government announced of Friday it wouldbe increasing its education budget by 1.2 per centfor the 2011/12 school year, an increase below thenational inﬂation rate of three per cent.Abbott blamed the government’s ﬁscal pressureon the continued fallout from the global economicdownturn.“B.C. has not been exempt from that,” said Ab-bott.However, he put the onus on school boards anddistrict staff to come up with innovative ways to de-liver education, within the constraints of ministryfunding.“A lot of times innovation depends not on dollars,but on the board,” Abbott said. “Sometimes youneed dollars to do things, but not always. You needto have the right plan, and then based on that rightplan ... you can move forward. But money alone willnever buy you a great education system.”However, Abbott recognized that while the pro-vincial education budget has crept slowly upwards,funding pressures faced by school districts have in-creased, as well.“Has the growth been sufﬁcient to deal with allthe pressures school district have encountered?”Abbott said. “Arguably those pressures have grownover time.”The ﬁscal pressure faced by the provincial gov-ernment will likely worsen in the short term as aresult of the HST, he added, no matter what theoutcome of the mail-in referendum.“It’s going to be challenging whether it passes orfails,” Abbott said.If the HST is tossed out by the province-wide ref-erendum next month, the provincial governmentwill have to pay back the federal government $1.6billion. Should British Columbians vote to keepthe tax, the province will have to make good onits promise to reduce the provincial portion of thesales tax by two percentage points over the nextthree years, causing a drop in tax revenue.However, Abbott contends the HST will sparkeconomic activity in the province, resulting in a netincrease in tax revenues down the road.“We believe it is a superior way of drawing intaxes,” he said. “But in the short run, it will be eco-nomically challenging. Period. There’s no question,it’s going to be challenging times.”B.C. Teachers, who are currently negotiatingwith the province for a new contract, should notexpect much at the bargaining table as a result,as Abbott reiterated the provincial government’scommitment to freeze public sector wages.“We don’t have the ﬂexibility we did in 2006,” hesaid. “That’s the reality we have to work with.”Abbott was quiet on the possibility of capitalfunding for a new elementary school in the rapidlygrowing Albion area of east Maple Ridge.
Education needs more than money
Robert Mangelsdorf/THE NEWS
Education Minister George Abbott visited Kanaka Creek elementary Friday as part of his tour of the localschool district.
Union may pursue legal action to overturn legislation
Inmate thefather of twoof her fourchildren
So don’t expect a major fundingincrease: George Abbott
The sentence includes a cur-few from 9:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. forthe ﬁrst ﬁve months and 50hours of community service.A judgement released ear-lier this month details howSchepannek was caught de-livering a package of pot, hashand tobacco to her common-law partner Jimmy Benoit,who was an inmate at theFraser Regional CorrectionalCentre in March 2009.Schepannek was seen byanother visitor passing apackage over a glass bar-rier to Benoit inside the 256thStreet prison.Corrections ofﬁcers re-viewed video surveillanceafter the complaint and Sche-pannek was escorted out of the visitors’ area for question-ing.Schepannek told the ofﬁ-cers she had passed tobaccoto Benoit.The court heard the 40-year-old woman was a mother of four children, aged two to 12years, and is the sole providerfor the family.She has had a relationshipwith Benoit, the father of hertwo youngest children, since2003.She told the court Benoitcalled her and said he wasin trouble and needed helpbecause some other inmateswere after him.He asked her if she could“please, please, please do afavour for him.”Benoit wanted Schepannekto bring tobacco into the pris-on for him on a future visit.She said she did not want to,as she knew it was illegal.Benoit told her she wouldreceive a telephone call laterabout the tobacco and thatshe was to meet a guy.Two days later, Schepannekreceived a call from a manwho told her to meet him ina parking lot of a Burnabyschool.There she was handed asock that contained a cylin-der-shaped object about eightcentimetres long and thethickness of a small cigar.The next day, she smuggledthe package inside the prisonin her underwear.Besides the nine-month con-ditional sentence, Schepan-nek also received a 10-yearﬁrearms ban.
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