General Strike in British Columbia

50,000 March on Legislature to Support Striking Teachers    

by Mike Palecek

This first-hand report from British Columbia is by a member of a radical group called Fightback.

On Monday, October 17 tens of thousands of trade unionists brought the capital city of British Columbia to a grinding halt. Victoria was closed for business as a regional general strike in support of the British Columbia Teachers Federation crippled the city. The strike culminated in a massive demonstration at the BC legislature. The comrades of Fightback were there on this historic day.

As we drove into the city, the magnitude of the event became clear. There were picket lines everywhere. Every public sector office was behind a picket line. Every school, every grocery store was closed.

The march began at Centennial Square and headed toward the legislature. We met the demonstration at the rally site. You could hear the drums banging and crowd cheering from several city blocks away. As the crowd came into view on Government Street, it was a truly awe-inspiring sight. A wall of people, filling a four-lane street was heading toward the legislature. The rear of the march arrived an hour and a half later than the front. This demonstration may be the largest in the history of Victoria.

As the government met inside, 50,000 people stood on the lawns, chanting “General Strike! General Strike!” Many labor leaders addressed the crowd, including Jinny Sims, president of the BC Teachers Federation, and Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labour.

Sinclair announced another regional general strike for Wednesday.

The BC Federation of Labour has planned regional general strikes throughout the week. Rumor has it, that the schedule has Vancouver out on Friday and an all-out, province-wide general strike to begin Monday, October 24.