FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 21, 2007
Who: Chief Byron Spinks, Lytton First Nation
INVITED George Heyman, President - BC Government Employees Union
INVITED Gary Zecchel, Chief Executive Officer - VSA
INVITED Dave Duncan, Assistant Deputy Minister - Ministry of Transportation & Highways
What: All Parties Invited to Meet to Discuss Deep Impacts of the Lytton Ferry Dispute
When: MONDAY JULY 23, 2007, 1:00 PM
Where: Lytton First Nation Boardroom - Building #951 Main Street, Lytton, B.C.
For further information contact:
Chief Byron Spinks, (250) 819-0692 or (250) 455-2304
Lytton First Nation Letter of Invitation
Backgrounder - Lytton Ferry Dispute
LETTER OF INVITATION
LYTTON FIRST NATION
P.O. Box 20, Building #951 Main Street, Lytton, B.C., V0K 1Z0
July 19, 2007
Mr. George Heyman
B.C. Government Employees Union
Mr. Gary Zecchel
Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Dave Duncan
Assistant Deputy Minister
Ministry of Transportation & Highways
Lytton Ferry Service - Labour Dispute.
The community residents of Lytton have been greatly impacted by the above noted labour dispute. The Lytton First Nation and the Village of Lytton and their respective constituents have been forced into an uncomfortable situation to respond to actions or inactions from all parties.
As one party responds to or counters the actions of the other, the fall out felt by the residents who rely on the ferry service is felt 100 times greater than the average citizen traveling on the TransCanada Highway. There also appears to be a complete disregard for the Health & Safety for our Elders and Children who reside on the Westside of the Fraser River, by all parties. Due to the closeness of our community residents, all of these actions have caused undue stress. Tensions are rising, tempers are flaring and suspicions are raised when acts of vandalism occur at the various impacted sites. This situation could quickly get out of hand.
The community will not tolerate the insensitivity publicly displayed by certain parties at this bargaining table. The public interest has not been given due consideration. It is with all due respect that we invite all parties to Lytton to begin an open dialogue with each other to address the community's heath & safety concerns and come to some resolve. The community representative working group will be meeting on Monday, July 23, 2007, 1:00 p.m. at the Lytton First Nation Board room. We expect that due respect will be returned with acceptance to our invitation. The meeting will be conducted in a respectful manner affording all parties a opportunity to present their position and offer recommendations on how to address the community's concerns.
Should all or any of the parties choose to decline or refuse; the community will be forced to take alternative measures to ensure that our health and safety concerns are duly considered. The community can not and will not live at the whim of outside influences. Please feel free to contact me at my office: Phone (250) 455-2304, should you have any questions.
Chief Byron Spinks
Mayor Chris O'Connor
Premier Gordon Campbell
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
As part of an ongoing and escalating situation, a two-hour blockade of the Trans-Canada Highway occurred on July 11 and an information picket was organized on July 10. Both actions provided the general public information about the VSA Highway Maintenance strike, which began April 23, 2007. The strike has critically shortened the ferry service between the communities on the west side of the Fraser River to the Village of Lytton and Highway 1.
The ferry service is an essential service for 400 residents who rely on this ferry on a daily basis for health, social and safety reasons. Communities were never properly consulted to reflect the appropriate essential service level for the ferry service. Without the ferry the alternatives are an access routes are a four-hour detour along a rough logging road or illegally walking across a long, narrow and elevated railway bridge outside the reserve.
The closure of the Lytton Ferry due to the VSA strike is a highly dangerous and unacceptable. The BC Government must immediately intervene and declare the Lytton Ferry Service to be an essential service. The Elders, children, members and residents have suffered grievous hardship; we need to support their courageous stand.
For more information go to: www.lyttonferry.com
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.