SAMWU Congress in South Africa

CUPE was one of several international guests attending the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) 10th National Congress in August 2012. Other guests included public sector unions from Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Germany and Italy.

The South African labour movement is vibrant and SAMWU is gaining strength, despite significant challenges faced by workers across the country. The congress’ ambitious agenda included several high ranking political speakers from the government and trade union movement, and a panel discussion under the theme “Solidarity Now More Than Ever! Workers of the World Unite!”

International resolutions to be discussed and debated included solidarity with Palestine and Swaziland, strengthening PSI and international solidarity, campaigning for green jobs, and labour brokers and employment agencies in the public sector.

CLC leaders delegation to China

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) led a delegation of Canadian union leaders on a visit to China in October 2012. CUPE National President Paul Moist participated in this delegation along with leaders from the CLC, United Steelworkers (USW), Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL) and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).

Given the growing attention the Canadian government has given to its trading relationship with China since 2009, it is increasingly important for the Canadian labour movement to connect with Chinese unions. The ACFTU currently faces tremendous challenges in balancing the interests of members with its prominent role within the government apparatus.

Cornell University – Advisory Group of the Energy Democracy Initiative

CUPE participated in a round table discussion on energy transition hosted by Cornell University in New York City in October 2012. National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury and National Research, Job Evaluation and Health and Safety Director Shelly Gordon joined union representatives from around the world to discuss, debate and develop solutions to the world’s pressing energy challenges, including climate change, land grabs and energy poverty, and the advancement of social and environmental justice.

The meeting was convened in response to the growing awareness that free-market forces, structures and actors are not providing a sustainable energy framework for the planet or for the majority of the world’s people.

CUPE made an important contribution during the meeting and was invited, along with other unions from around the world, by Cornell University to join an advisory group that would create a space for unions to debate, develop and promote real solutions to the climate crisis.

International Labour Organization (ILO)

A Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Forced Labour was organized by the ILO in Switzerland in February 2013. CUPE’s Equality Representative Annick Desjardins attended along with other experts nominated in consultation with governments, and employers’ and workers’ groups.

The purpose of the meeting was to formulate recommendations to the ILO’s Governing Body on the scope for possible standard setting to complement the ILO’s Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), and Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105).

The discussions addressed regulatory and implementation gaps for the effective protection of victims as well as the prevention of forced labour, victim compensation, and human trafficking for labour exploitation. The experts recommended that supplementary measures be adopted to address these gaps and considered different options for standard setting. The ILO Governing Body, at its March meeting, added this item to the agenda of the 2014 International Labour Conference.

CUPE calls UN’s attention to Harper government’s water policies

CUPE was at the United Nations in Geneva, in April 2013, to draw international attention to the Harper Conservatives’ efforts to privatize Canada’s municipal water and wastewater systems, and the threat this poses to the accessibility of safe public water for all Canadians. The Harper Conservative government’s human rights record was being reviewed by member states of the UN during Canada’s Universal Periodic Review. In the days leading up to the review, CUPE met with diplomats from various countries taking part to share concerns over the Harper Conservatives water policies. CUPE was also offering its support for Indigenous peoples working to build international pressure on Canada to address the crisis-level conditions of drinking water in First Nations communities.