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Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: another Conservative blunder

CUPE’s National Executive Board has adopted a resolution opposing the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

Paul Moist described the agreement as “tantamount to a death sentence for all who oppose the policies of the current Colombian government.”

Finalized in secret last June, 2008, the agreement solidifies ties with the government of President Alvaro Uribe.

The fact that Stephen Harper wants to be a close ally of the most repressive government in the Americas says a lot about his vision of foreign affairs,” said Moist who represented CUPE on an observation mission to Colombia in July.

EU trade talks: no secrecy please

Recent media reports have revealed that Canadian and European officials have drafted a plan to achieve “deep economic integration” and CUPE says it’s time for the federal government to spill the beans.

Official talks are expected to be launched at the EU Canada Summit in Montréal on October 17, three days after the federal election.

The plan:

• lets European companies bid as equals on public sector contracts
• gives Canada little ability to influence regulations on labour standards and product labelling
• is unlikely to give Canadians working overseas social protections Europeans benefit from

New CCPA book on Harper’s record

Just in time for the federal election, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives yesterday released The Harper Record.

Edited by Canadian Labour Congress researcher Teresa Healy, The Harper Record gives a detailed account of the laws, policies, regulations, and initiatives of the Conservative government over the last two-and-a-half years.

The CCPA released an electronic version of the book this week to help Canadians make informed choices about the future of their country.

The book is downloadable at: www.policyalternatives.ca

Air Canada base closures not about costs

Air Canada flight attendants have produced their own ‘base closure viability study’ that undermines the company’s claims the attendant bases are being closed to cut costs.

We did our homework and we can show that there is no business case or economic justification for the closure of the bases,” said CUPE Air Canada Component president Lesley Swann.  “Unless of course the airline has another motive they are not sharing with us or the public.”

The union study concludes that it will cost Air Canada about $2 million a year if it closes the two bases for overnight accommodations and to transport flight attendants to their assignments.

CUPE Nova Scotia president calls for ban on bottled water

Danny Cavanagh called on the Nova Scotia government to look at banning bottled water in schools and other public buildings.

If the government is really committed to working on our environmental footprint, let’s start with some education aimed at our children and others that public water is just as good and in fact better and cheaper and more environmentally friendly.”

Public water undergoes much testing to ensure its safety”, says Cavanagh.  “Bottled water, meanwhile, can cost as much as 500 times more than public water.”

Alberta P3 school builder has high debt

The company hired by the Alberta government to build and operate 18 schools has been criticized by investors groups for holding too much debt.

According to the Financial Times, Brown & Babcock recently laid off one-quarter of its staff after losing billions in investments.  The Times reports analysts are concerned with the company’s ‘exposure to overleveraged satellites.’

Bloomberg news reports Brown & Babcock is the third worst performer on the MCSI global stock index.  Only Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac rank lower.

CUPE Alberta President D’Arcy Lanovaz says the high debt load of Brown & Babcock highlights the problem with leasing schools from the private sector instead of traditional financing.

CUPE challenges UBC to be a better employer

CUPE locals at UBC have issued some challenges to the university after the Georgia Straight named it one of the best local employers.

CUPE represents thousands of workers at UBC and we would welcome an opportunity to work with our employer to improve the quality of work life, staff morale, and labour relations,” says Colleen Garbe, president of CUPE Local 116.

Some suggestions from the four CUPE locals at UBC:

• maintain buildings
• address health and safety issues
• resolve outstanding grievances
• retain skilled and experienced workers and attract new ones

Québecor still seeks injunction against strike paper

Its last issue came out in August, but on September 11, Québecor was still out to get an injunction against MédiaMatinQuébec, the paper put out by CUPE members at the Journal de Québec.

They lost.

Meanwhile, the company asked the Québec labour board to dismiss the union’s complaints over the use of scabs during the strike, arguing that, since the strike was over, the whole issue was moot.

The case of the Québecor scabs continues September 29.

Sign up for the Women’s Bargaining Conference

CUPE members from across the country will gather in Montréal, Québec February 10-13, 2009 for the National Bargaining Women’s Equality Conference.

This is our opportunity to develop a Canada-wide bargaining agenda to move forward on raising women’s wages, obtaining and improving pensions for women, improving work-home life balance, bargaining secure jobs and protection from workplace violence.

Register online before January 11, 2009 at www.cupe.ca/forms/wbc.php

CUPE election fun page

You might not have as much fun as Dana Larsen, but visit CUPE’s election web page for contests, quizzes and our 2008 election pool.

Win prizes and bragging rights with your election knowledge, wit and psychic abilities: www.cupe.ca/election

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