December 6: Remembering and working for change
CUPE took time this week to remember the 14 women killed on December 6, 1989 at the Polytechnique massacre in Montreal. We also observed the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women by condemning the Stephen Harper government’s many cuts to women’s programs, and by reminding members to help make workplaces and communities safer for all women.
Meanwhile, hundreds of women and their supporters are planning to march on Parliament Hill for women’s equality on December 10, International Human Rights Day. Joining them will be several CUPE leaders, including Prince Edward Island regional vice-president Donalda MacDonald.
In addition, representatives of leading women’s and human rights organizations, the labour movement, the private sector, and key Parliamentarians will hold a roundtable on women’s rights in Ottawa on December 11. Sponsored by The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), the roundtable highlights the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
CUPE has called on the federal government to reverse its policy decisions on childcare, pay equity, the court challenges program and Status of Women Canada, and to respect the CEDAW committee recommendations.
House of Commons supports same-sex marriage–again
Members of Parliament voted 175 to 123 against a motion to re-open the same-sex marriage debate brought to the House by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“CUPE has long championed the right of same-sex couples to marry should they choose,” said Paul Moist, CUPE National President.
Auditor General report supports CAS workers complaints
A report by the Ontario Auditor General into four Children’s Aid Societies confirms what CUPE child welfare workers have been saying for years.
“While we welcome the Auditor General’s recommendations to ensure proper controls for how money is spent, the most important issue remains the continued under-resourcing of front line services,” said CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan. “There are simply not enough workers to meet both the demands of children and the administration.”
Child protection workers have said repeatedly they do not have enough time to complete caseload paperwork. And when they are faced with the decision of whether to provide care that protects children or do paperwork, they opt to help children.
CUPE will review the report with CAS staff and send our recommendations to the government.
Lakeland’s final contract offer: ‘little and nothing’
The lowest-paid library workers in Saskatchewan went to the bargaining table this week hoping to see a significant wage offer from the Lakeland Regional Library Board. What they got was a “final offer” that reflects the employer’s bah humbug attitude.
“We hoped to see substantial improvements in the employer’s offer, particularly in the area of wages and benefits,” says CUPE 3077 president Dawnlyn Ward. “Instead, the employer gave us a ‘final offer’ that contains little in terms of wage increases and nothing in terms of benefits.”
CUPE represents about 80 employees working in 29 branch libraries across the region. The workers are the poorest paid in the province – if not the country. Most earn less than $10 an hour. They also earn much less than most other library workers in the province.
CUPE 3077’s agreement expired March 31, 2006.
Calgary library workers reluctantly accept settlement
Calgary Public Library workers have reluctantly voted to accept a mediator’s recommendations for a collective agreement.
The settlement was accepted by 63 per cent of CUPE 1169 members. A previous settlement had been rejected. The deal provides for a wage increase of 10 per cent over three years.
“While the contract has been ratified, we have notified our employer that the support for the settlement was not overwhelming”, said Rh’ena Oake, president of CUPE 1169.
Oake said members feel the board needs to pay higher wages and improve working conditions or risk losing experienced staff.
Moose Jaw school workers achieve wage parity
Mostly female secretaries, teacher associates and library assistants at the Holy Trinity School Division in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, have achieved wage parity with mostly male school caretakers, following the ratification of their new agreement last month.
The parity adjustments mean pay increases of $0.50 to $2.66 an hour for about 30 of the 70 workers, members of CUPE 5506.
BC Fed delegates condemn Partnerships BC, TILMA
British Columbia’s labour movement is standing united against Premier Gordon Campbell’s agenda to force public-private partnerships (P3s) on communities throughout the province and vows to oppose any attempt by the provincial or federal government to privatize the planned Capital Region District sewage treatment plant.
Labour representatives from virtually every sector of the economy spoke out against the privatization of public infrastructure and services at the 50th Convention of the B.C. Federation of Labour.
They also condemned the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between Alberta and British Columbia. The 1100 convention delegates voted unanimously to pressure the B.C. government to abandon the agreement; develop a community campaign to stop it; and work closely with municipal governments, school districts and social allies to help the public understand the negative consequences of the agreement for B.C. communities and workers.