Workers at the province’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) are urging union members and their friends and families to sign the online petition at www.DontDropPublicLiquor.ca to stop the privatization of the LDB distribution system and sell-off of the warehouses.
“There is a growing opposition to the government’s plans—from independent brewers and private liquor retailers, to municipal councils and consumers. We are using the petition to demonstrate to the government how deep and widespread that opposition is,” said Darryl Walker, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU).
The petition is just one part of the BCGEU’s “Don’t Drop Public Liquor” campaign to stop the privatization of the LDB and convince British Columbians our public system is worth protecting. Other campaign activities include letter-writing, leafleting, lobbying MLAs and local governments, rallies, and online advertising.
In addition to signing the petition, people are asked to contact Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for the LDB privatization, and let him know they are opposed to the sell-off of this public asset. Email the minister at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (604) 882-3151.
The BCGEU was blind-sided in February when Finance Minister Kevin Falcon tabled a provincial budget that included the privatization of the LDB distribution system and sell-off of its warehouses.
“The provincial government presented no business case for the decision. There was no consultation with workers, bar/restaurant owners and other licensees, communities or the public,” Walker said.
“Brewers, distillers and others in the liquor sector are worried their costs will go up. Consumers are angry these increases will be passed on to them. And the public is wondering why the government would sell-off an efficient, profitable and socially responsible system that has served BC well for decades and generates nearly a billion dollars a year for public services such as health care and education.”
Walker said the mix of rural agency stores, privately operated neighbourhood stores and government liquor stores with consistent province-wide pricing, all supported by central distribution, works well for consumers.
“The LDB system should not be broken up–the central distribution system and the stores must stay together in a single system–it’s what makes it work.”
Walker said rather than handing over liquor distribution to a for-profit private company, the government should modernize government liquor stores through Sunday openings, extended hours and opening new stores to generate even more revenues for public services. Sunday openings alone would bring in about $125 million per year in additional revenue.
The BCGEU, which is currently in a labour dispute over contract negotiations covering 25,000 workers in the public service (including LDB members), made these revenue-generating proposals at the bargaining table and were rejected by the government.
You can help stop the sell-off of the LDB by signing the online petition at www.DontDropPublicLiquor.ca