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Canadian workers must continue to oppose privatization and protect their public services, CUPE’s Colombian union visitor told a group of Hospital Employees’ Union staff and members this week on the final leg of her month-long tour of Canada.

Maria Fernanda Bolanos, a sanitation worker in Cali, Colombia, reinforced her message as she has with several groups in B.C. and elsewhere in telling of her municipal union’s struggle against privatization.

Bolanos also met this week with Vancouver and District Labour Council president Bill Saunders and visited Port Moody where she met with CUPE 825 president Maria Wahl Mayor Joe Trasolini. 

The mayor and Wahl explained that Port Moody’s garbage collection has been brought back into the public service after a 10 years of being contracted out to private companies.  The private firms did not provide the service that was needed or expected and at the end of June Port Moody city council voted to return it to the city. 

Wahl said that their union has worked hard with the city over the past two years to achieve this victory. 


Earlier in the week, CUPE 1004 president Mike Jackson provided a guided tour of the Vancouver transfer station where trucks bring garbage to be pushed into bigger trucks that take it to the landfill. Bolanos also saw the recycling station in action with many people bringing paper, old appliances, plastic, etc.

Bolanos also met with CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock, provincial vice-president Carlene Keddie and staff from CUPE’s research communications, education, legal and other branches.

In addition, she also engaged in a lively conversation and dinner with members of the B.C. Federation of Labour young workers’ committee. They talked about different strategies for getting young people organized, involved and for getting their voices heard.

CUPE’s guest also spent an evening with members and staff at the Canadian Union of Postal Employees, discussing privatization. The postal service in Colombia has been entirely privatized, but a union has formed to re-organize the service.


Assisting Bolanos on the B.C. leg of the tour are national global justice committee member Barbara Wood, executive director of CoDevelopment Canada, CoDev staff members Carol Wood and Kirsten Daub and provincial international solidarity committee member Rhonda Spence.

With files from Barbara Wood