Sustainable Development in a New Environment
With a view to ensuring sustainable development, it should be noted that, within the scope of the E-7 created 8 years ago, the world’s seven largest electric power production and distribution enterprises gave themselves a mandate to promote the introduction of electricity power supply systems in developing countries.
Today, in the light of deregulation, opening of markets, globalization and the search for maximum competitiveness, the E-7 is re-examining this mandate.
Energy: An Essential Service Just as Important as Water
During the International Conference of Energy Trade Unions, organized by the unions at Hydro-Qub0065c (union locals 957, 2000 and 1500 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees CUPE-FTQ), a decision was made to establish a forum parallel to the E-7.
In fact, the delegates stressed that electric power, like water, must be considered an essential service and not a commodity.
The WTO Must Withdraw From the Energy Sector
Consequently, activities related to the electric energy sector must not be subject to the regulations or arbitrations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Such coverage would actually threaten numerous projects to introduce networks in developing countries in which the populations obviously do not have the means to pay the rates set in the northern nations. In taking this position, the energy trade unions wish to avoid compounding the existing economic and social imbalance between the north and south.
A Unionist Vision of Sustainable Development
Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, emphasized the importance of this International Conference of Energy Trade Unions, not only to keep close tabs on the decisions and activities of the E-7, but “also and particularly to develop our own vision of sustainable development, a unionist vision, an international unionist vision.”
“We must never forget the fact that workers and populations in developing countries have repeatedly asserted that they do not wish to accept development at any cost and particularly not at the expense of foreign control of their own resources”, Ms. Darcy continued.
Every Human Being Should Have Access to Energy
The President of the FTQ, Henri Mass,0020insisted on the necessity that every human being, no matter where he is on the planet, must have access to energy, emphasizing that energy must act as a lever to eliminate poverty throughout the world and especially in developing countries.
“We must find projects that will allow the E-7 to invest in developing countries on the basis of social and unionist criteria, while facilitating the establishment of modern communications and distribution networks,” the President of the FTQ stated.
Creation of a Formal Unionist Exchange Forum with the E-7
In summing up these two days of discussions between union partners in the energy sector from around the world, the first of its kind, Richard Perreault, Conference Organizer and Spokesperson for the Hydro-Qub0065c unions, repeated the wish of the union participants to continue this initiative by creating a formal exchange forum with the E-7.
“This forum will enable information to be exchanged on the decisions and actions of the E-7, while maintaining the participating unions’ independence of action We know that certain enterprises in the E-7 experience difficulties in implementing projects in the south, particularly when it comes to the local population’s perception of foreign control over their resources.
Transparency is Imperative
If the activities of the E-7 are transparent and the relative information is communicated to us, we believe that this unionist forum could facilitate their task, provided that social criteria and our own values as union members are taken into account in implementing projects,” Mr. Perreault concluded.
The meetings of this international unionist forum should keep pace with those of the E-7 and should even be held before each E-7 meeting in order, as Judy Darcy said, to ensure that our vision of sustainable development becomes an integral part of the enterprises’ decision-making process.
SOURCE : CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES (FTQ)