Public Service International (PSI) brings together more than 20 million workers, represented by 650 unions in 148 countries and territories. Every five years, PSI organizes an international congress that offers trade unionists the opportunity to gather and discuss global plans for addressing issues related to human rights, social justice and universal access to quality public services.

CUPE sent a delegation to the PSI 29th World Congress in Durban, South Africa in November 2012. The four-member delegation included our National President Paul Moist, National Secretary- Treasurer Charles Fleury, and two National Executive Board members: Judy Henley from Saskatchewan and Ginette Paul from Quebec.

CUPE is a proud and active member of PSI and used this congress as an important opportunity to network and engage with public sector unions from around the world. Moist has actively served on the PSI executive board for the past three years as the Canada and Quebec representative.

There were many highlights for CUPE at the 29th Congress. It was honoured, along with PSAC, for leading the PSI initiative to re-build the Port-au-Prince offices of the Confederation of Public and Private Sector Workers (CTSP), our sister union in Haiti. The World Congress also adopted, at CUPE’s suggestion, a statement of solidarity and action for the workers killed in the horrific factory fire in Bangladesh that occurred earlier in the week.

As a massive attack on public services and public sector workers is being experienced all over the world the need for unity is ever more urgent. This need for solidarity among all public and private sector workers, including workers who do not have a union, was very clear from the stories of struggle shared by delegates to the congress.

Under the new leadership of Rosa Pavanelli, from the Italian affiliate FP-CGIL, a new program of action called “In the Peoples’ Interest” will guide PSI for the next five years.

Canada-US affiliate meeting

Following the PSI World Congress in South Africa, CUPE hosted a sub-regional meeting in February with PSI North American affiliates from Canada and the United States in the CUPE National office in Ottawa. Canada-US affiliates had the opportunity to discuss the outcome of the World Congress and to consider PSI’s new five year plan, “Working for the Alternative: Implementing PSI’s mandate in 2013 and beyond.” This meeting also served as a follow up to the first ever Canada-US affiliate meeting held in Washington in January 2012.