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MAR DEL PLATA, ARGENTINA – Health care workers will campaign together throughout the Americas to build public health care for all while fighting privatization and corporate free trade deals, report CUPE officials on the eve of the Summit of the Americas.

“Canadians struggling to defend our public health care system are now joined by unions and pressure groups fighting for their own public systems in Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and all across Latin America,” said Claude Généreux, National Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“There was an amazing consensus among workers from 17 countries that the time has come to turn up the heat on all governments who jeopardize health through privatization and trade deals,” said Généreux, who is part of the CUPE delegation meeting in Mar del Plata, Argentina, meeting with other union and popular groups in the lead-up to the Peoples’ Summit. The social movement alternative to the biannual Summit of the Americas and its free trade focus opens today.

“Health as a human right and the duty of the state” has become the hemispheric rallying cry for health care workers from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska.

“The degree of commitment is inspiring, the plan realistic,” said Généreux. “We are moving forward to build a hemispheric movement for public health care.”

Delegates to the Conference on GATS, the FTAA and Health Workers in the Americas organized by Public Services International, the trade union central representing public sector workers around the world, developed a work plan that includes joint actions marking the day for the elimination of poverty on December 10, the World Health Forum in January and World Health Workers’ Day on April 7.

Delegates agreed to form an ongoing communications network and start or join national coalitions to deliver campaigns with a focus on the impact of free trade agreements and World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies that undermine public health care. Corporations that sacrifice health for profits will be exposed across the Americas.

CUPE is Canada’s largest union with more than 540,000 workers. Over 150,000 members work the front lines of Canada’s health care system.


Contact in Argentina:
Claude Généreux: 011 54911 6125 0509 (cell) English and French
Stan Marshall: 011 54911 6125 0509 (cell) English

Contact in Canada:
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878-1431