In some parts of the developing world, workers and the people have
faced down the corporatist program (for example, Argentina, Bolivia, and Venezuela)
that disempowers the masses of people and exacerbates the hideous wealth gap
in capitalist societies. In the egregiously named Canadian province of British
Columbia (BC), an “illegal” strike had been ongoing that has importance
for all people concerned in the fight against further diminishment of worker’s
rights -- especially under the cudgel of inegalitarian hacks imposing the hideous
ideology of neoliberalism.
BC is a province that in recent times swings between the right wing and a political
entity called the New Democratic Party (NDP) that dissembles as the left wing.
In the new millennium, the right-wing Liberal Party engineered an electoral
victory partially based on a judicially discredited attempt to tarnish the then
NDP premier of BC, Glen Clark. The Liberal leader Gordon Campbell, a sycophant
of the George Bush administration in the US, quickly set about pursuing his
party’s neoliberal agenda of cutting income tax and privatizing government
It is, however, a scathing attack on the worker that has been a centerpiece
of the Campbell agenda. The minimum wage was slashed by $2 an hour , child
labor standards were appallingly slackened , and the union movement was targeted.
Campbell has all but eradicated collective bargaining in the government’s
dealings with its workers. Insofar as the government sets the tone for the private
sector in its dealings with its workers, the effect on labor has been catastrophic.
In 2004, Campbell imposed a settlement on the Hospital Employees Union (HEU)
that rolled back wages 15 percent retroactively and allowed for some privatization.
Workers across BC were walking off the job in solidarity with their
fellow HEU workers. A general strike was looming on the labor horizon. As the
pressure was rising on the government, the HEU leaders reached a suspect backroom
deal that effectively stalled a labor showdown with the BC government.
At that time, one HEU leader, Ken Robinson, lamented, “The government
has learned a great lesson. If they pass a really bad bill against workers,
all they have to do is take out a little of the worst part and then they can
get it passed.” 
The current standoff is between the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the Campbell
government. The government enacted Bill 12, which freezes teacher salaries for
two years and increases teacher workload and class sizes.  Campbell’s
government passed legislation that determines teachers to be “essential
services”; therefore, teachers are not legally permitted to strike. Nonetheless,
38,000 union teachers were manning the picket lines.
Campbell has attempted to depict the teachers as lawbreakers. Said he, “We
don't get to obey the laws we like and disobey the laws we don't like.”
The ministry of the Attorney General has appointed a special prosecutor to
review the need for criminal contempt charges. BC Supreme Court Justice Brenda
Brown ordered the BCTF not to distribute strike pay.  But the “illegality”
of the situation has not frightened the members of the BCTF or other supporters.
Court order notwithstanding, Saskatchewan teachers in a show of solidarity contributed
$24,000 to their striking colleagues. 
On 18 October, unionized municipal workers and civil servants rallied at the
Parliament Buildings in Victoria “in a noisy, raucous demonstration that
paralysed Victoria's downtown and disrupted bus service and government services
for much of the day.” 
BC Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Angela Shira exclaimed, “It's
hard to believe that twenty-first century democratic governments still don't
understand that people don't give up their rights without a fight.”
The corporate media, without surprise, lambasted unions and their workers for
defying the law. The Globe and Mail whined, “It was bad enough when public-school
teachers in British Columbia thumbed their noses at the law and continued an
illegal strike. Now the Canadian Union of Public Employees and other unionists
in both the public and private sector have joined the teachers in their defiance.”
The premier and corporate media organs would supposedly have people believe
that all laws are just and good. Otherwise why would people be expected to obey
them without question? Yet history, both past and recent, is rife with examples
of iniquitous laws. For instance the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws enacted in Nazi
Germany , or the Absentee Property Law of the settler state Israel which
legalizes the theft of Palestinian land.  Clearly, the law is an abstraction
that must not unquestioningly compel obedience. Then there is the unsettled
matter of the historical monster land grab by ancestral settler Canadians that
is maintained by the present generation of Canadians, nowhere more so than in
Jerry West astutely noted the Liberal government’s own lack of respect
for the law:
On a purely legal ground, Canada is a member of the International Labour
Organization of the United Nations. Over the past three years, the ILO has
condemned the Campbell government nine times for contravening labour standards
that Canada is obligated to uphold. This included condemnation of legislated
contracts. So, it can be argued that calling an action illegal which is an
action against a law which in itself may be illegal is somewhat of a disingenuous
Perhaps before it gets too deep into the legal swamp with the teachers, the
B.C. government might want to examine its own actions in light of the international
agreements it is pledged to honour. Clearly its labelling of the teachers'
job action as illegal is an act of pure hypocrisy. 
To approach the BC teachers’ strike purely from a position of legality
is folly. Surely, morality eclipses legality in importance. It does according
to the scale commonly used in psychological studies of morality. The moral psychologist
Lawrence Kohlberg  placed law and order at stage four in conventional morality.
To attain the highest post-conventional level of moral development, one had
to transcend legality and consider social contract, individual rights, and universal
Egalitarianism is a lofty principle that embodies universality. It is a principle
that is ideologically abandoned by the Campbell regime. Campbell has gutted
the social fabric of BC to help pay for his generous income tax cuts that primarily
benefit the already well-to-do and has maligned the dignity of labor. There
is little moral leg to stand on.
Although the BC government said it would remain steadfast against the BCTF,
the outcome signals a weakening in that resolve. Cognizant of polling results
showing support for the teachers, the government appointed mediator Vince Ready
and readily accepted his recommendations that touched on all the BCTF’s
key concerns, including wages, class sizes, and funding of education. A door,
however, was left open for the government to shirk any deal.
Otherwise, the mediator’s report is a backdown for the BC government.
Labor Minister Mike de Jong said, “I've conveyed in writing to Mr. Ready
the government's unconditional acceptance of his recommendations.” Acceptance,
however, does not imply changes in teaching conditions. Aware of this, the BCTF
has made its acceptance conditional on a written guarantee that the government
will amend the School Act with specific limits on class sizes. De Jong is only
promising to “consult” as required by the mediator’s report.
It is said that the government learns its lessons. This time the workers appeared
to have taught the government a new lesson: workers will not allow their rights
or dignity to be legislated and threatened away.
As West noted, “This is not just a fight for workers, it is a fight for
all of us … who wish a democracy responsive to the people rather than
rule by corporate flunkies.”
 Jim Sinclair, “Instead
of Blaming the Labour Movement for Gordon Campbell's Woes, Perhaps the Fraser
Institute Should Look in the Mirror,” BC Federation of Labour, April
 Gina Whitfield, “Globalisation
comes home to roost: Child labour in Campbell’s B.C.,” Seven
Oaks, 21 February 2004.
 Roger Annis, “Drawing
the lessons of the HEU strike,” Seven Oaks, 10 May 2004.
 Quoted in ibid.
 John Malcolmson, “Why
Teachers Are Primed to Strike,” The Tyee, 26 September 2005. Teachers
have experienced a drop in earning power due to inflation and an increase in
 Tom Fletcher, “Teacher
strike pay withheld,” Sooke News Mirror, 19 October 2005.
sending $24K to B.C. teachers,” CBC News, 19 October 2005.
 Doug Ward and Miro Cernetig, “A
day of defiance,” Vancouver Sun, 18 October 2005.
B.C. teachers should obey the law” Globe and Mail, 19 October 2005.
 Racial policy of
Nazi Germany, Wikpedia. Jews were scapegoated for much of the misfortune
that beset Germany following World War I. This led to the passing of the "Law
for the Protection of German Blood and Honor," forbidding marriage between
any Jew and non-Jew. Simultaneously, the "Reich Citizenship Law" was
passed decreeing that all Jews were non-citizens without basic citizens' rights.
 Editorial team, “Here to stay: A timeline of Palestine,” in
Tony Seed and Gary Zatzman (Eds.) Dossier
on Palestine (shunpiking, 2002), p. 51. “This [law] authorizes the
theft of the property of a million Palestinians, seized by Israel in 1948.”
 Jerry West, “In
B.C., this is a fight for all of us,” Rabble.ca, 19 October 2005.
 In a tribute to hypocrisy, Kohlberg happened to be a Zionist.