Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The New Year has been very busy in terms of issues and events that affect working people. A belated happy new year to each of you.
A small number of difficult strikes/lockouts continued in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Our 43 municipal workers in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, members of CUPE Local 2019 were locked out on January 13, 2015 over pension concessions. Our members stood strong and these proposals were withdrawn by mid-February.
On the national scene, the Supreme Court of Canada issued two important decisions affirming the right of RCMP staff to unionize, and the much anticipated Saskatchewan Federation of Labour case in which the Court affirmed that the right to strike is protected by section 2(d) of Canada’s Constitution (more on these decisions inside my report).
On the international scene after over 50 years the United States took its first steps to normalize relations with Cuba, including the release from jail of the final three members of the Cuban Five. In Greece, the Syriza Party assumed power in January on an anti-austerity platform.
Oxfam International issued a new report on widening inequality which finds that the wealth of the 80 richest people globally has doubled since 2009. By 2016 the top 1 per cent will own more wealth than the remaining 99 per cent of the world’s population.
In February, almost 500 CUPE delegates and staff gathered in Winnipeg for our 2nd National Human Rights Conference. Keynote speaker, Quebec NDP MP, Romeo Saganash urged our union to continue to speak out against racism and to continue our call for a judicial inquiry into the cases of almost 1,200 murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls.
As we begin 2015, let me again thank all CUPE activists and staff for your tireless efforts on behalf of our members and our broader goal of social justice for all.