World Energy Congress
The World Energy Congress was held in Montreal from September 12 to 16 this year. CUPE was present at both the congress and the exhibition that accompanied it. Although this global forum was primarily an assembly of large private industries and public corporations, community groups and several unions were also in attendance. Interestingly, CUPE was the only union with a booth in the exhibition hall.
Among the more than 3,000 delegates were CUPE National president Paul Moist, CUPE National secretary-treasurer Claude Généreux, and other CUPE delegates who attended most of the discussions in plenary sessions and workshops.
The conference touched on many issues including the growing demand for energy, alternative energies like wind power, reducing pollution and greenhouse gases (particularly as caused by fossil fuels and nuclear energy), and the right to energy for countries and the poor. From what was said by several industry leaders, it is clear that our public services will face new challenges with pressure from the private sector in favour of privatization, deregulation and free trade.
For CUPE, our priorities are clear.
- Keep the production, transport and distribution of electricity in the public sector to the greatest possible extent
- Protect the environment, reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions through greener technologies and alternative energies
- Have a long-term plan for the country’s energy security
- Implement energy efficiency measures
Provide training and fair transition programs for workers
CUPE sectoral meeting
In conjunction with the congress, CUPE unions involved in the energy field (including but not limited to crown corporations in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec) held a meeting of their own. This provided an opportunity to exchange information, share negotiating strategies, and reflect on common issues with the help of guest speakers. The Hydro-Québec unions, members of CUPE, are to be congratulated for organizing the event.
Some of the topics discussed at this sectoral meeting included: a study of pricing between Canadian provinces in comparison with other countries, opportunities in the wind energy sector, issues in the nuclear sector, and the use of electricity (versus oil) in transportation.
The energy sector unions affiliated with CUPE agreed to hold another meeting in June 2011 to discuss issues of common concern.