Yesterday, we reported British Columbia Government Employees' Union staffers would be in a strike position tomorrow. But the union's president George Heyman won't be around if those staffers take to the picket lines. Since February 7, Mr. Heyman has been visiting Palestine and Israel as part of a Public Services International fact-finding mission (also known to the cynical as a junket).
According to government employees' union communications director Mary Rowles, Public Services International representatives are in the Middle East to "get some more background information for the executive council of PSI, who have been having a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. And they realized they better make a link with trade union activists and politicians on both sides of the conflict."
"They wanted to get a sense of where the possible grounds for settlement were and to get a perspective from people whose working conditions we understand...So it gives you a very different perspective from reading the newspapers," said Ms. Rowles, adding the delegation has met with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Union, New Histadrut and members of the Keneset, among others.
Of course, some have pointed out that now might not have been the best time for Mr. Heyman to leave British Columbia, given that his union has been trying to negotiate a contract with its staffers. But, according to Ms. Rowles, "He's not at the bargaining table. And the trip had been scheduled for sometime. And nobody would be able to replace him. And our expectation was we would reach a settlement. And we hoped we'd reach a settlement through mediation. So his expectation would be that the bargaining committee would be doing its job. And we'd have a settlement."
Mr. Heyman returns from his trip on Monday.