FREDERICTON – Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) secretary-treasurer Hassan Yussuf opened the 2006 New Brunswick division convention of Canada’s largest union with an impassioned plea for greater, more focused political action to counter creeping Conservative and anti-worker agendas at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
“Working people are facing challenges in this province and across the country like never before,” said Yussuf, listing growing privatization, Stephen Harper’s dismantling of the fledgling national child-care system, weak legislation to protect workers’ pensions and the lack of a national Pharmacare program, among other dangers.
“We have to be lobbying our elected officials, not just at election time, but on a continuous basis, to push a workers’ agenda. Who is going to speak on our behalf, if we don’t? We’ve got to be in their faces. If they don’t hear from you, you don’t exist.”
Yussuf was speaking to some 250 delegates at the CUPE NB annual convention in Fredericton April 7-9.
Yussuf urged members to become more active politically. He said the CLC, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in a few weeks, is allocating a record percentage of its budget to lobbying and political action, with a particular focus on upcoming municipal elections across Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“People used to say that local governments were only good for fixing potholes and handing out parking tickets,” he said. “Not anymore. The roles and responsibilities of local government are changing. It’s up to us to make sure our tax dollars go toward providing public services, not lining the pockets of privateers.”
“We’re going to make a hell of a difference,” Hassan promised the audience.
For more information: Danielle Savoie, CUPE Communications Representative – (506) 381-1966