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CUPE members in Newfoundland and Labrador are leaving their division convention ready to defeat Premier Paul Davis’ privatization plans.

The provincial Conservatives recently announced plans to privatize 360 new long-term care beds through public-private partnerships (P3s).

CUPE’s fightback was launched at a powerful rally on the steps of the provincial House of Assembly that brought workers together with one clear message: our public services are not for sale.

More than 60 members and staff built union capacity and strategized about fighting privatization in a pre-convention conference. They left primed to connect with members and the community about the value of public services, including by being regular callers to the province’s popular and influential open line shows.

“It’s a point of pride that the province is a P3-free zone, and CUPE NL members are determined to keep it that way”, division president Wayne Lucas told the convention crowd of more than 140 delegates, staff and guests.

“Make no mistake, we will fight this government in the streets, in the House of Assembly, on open line shows, and in the next general election,” said Lucas.

“In tough economic times privatization is never the answer. Austerity and layoffs are never the answer. CUPE stands for public services, and we won’t back down,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist.

The division’s campaign plans include a mass lobby against privatization and a one-day conference on the dangers of P3s in July, right before the annual premiers’ meeting in St. John’s.

CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury reminded delegates they have the backing of their union every step of the way, including through CUPE’s anti-privatization fund. “We are not alone. We have each other.  Our members and the public services you provide are at the centre of everything we do.”