CUPEs 8th National Health and Safety Conference kicked off last night in Montreal with a record number of delegates in attendance. 380 activists from across Canada have come together for three days of workshops on health and safety. Delegates will be tackling stress, violence in the workplace, work overload and taking back health and safety committees. CUPEs National Health and Safety Committee identified these four topics as hot issues during the initial planning phase of the Conference. Judging by the record response in delegates, the Committee was bang on in its assessment.
Greetings from Claude Genereux, President of CUPE Quebec, plus rousing speeches by National President Judy Darcy and National Secretary-Treasurer Geraldine McGuire, opened the conference Thursday evening. Following the opening speeches, the Irondale theatre group from Halifax presented its new performance Enough, a play documenting the harmful health and safety effects of work overload.
CUPEs National Health and Safety Branch surveyed delegates before the conference to guage concerns with stress, violence, work overload and health and safety committees. Nearly fifty per cent of delegates responded. The results paint a clear picture of members concerns. Some highlights:
100% of delegates said stress is, or sometimes is, a health and safety problem in their workplace
74.9% reported that violence is, or sometimes is, a health and safety problem in their workplace
36.1% of delegates have been victims of workplace violence at least once in the past two years
85% reported that their workload has increased in the past two years
76.2% of delegates said their health and safety is at risk because of their excessive workload
58.4% of delegates reported that their employer is insisting that health and safety be treated as a neutral issue
These results indicate that stress, violence, work overload and health and safety committee effectiveness are burning issues for CUPE members.
Members are sending a clear signal to employers. Theyve had enough of stress, violence and work overload, warned Anthony Pizzino, Director of CUPEs National Health and Safety Branch. And theyre going to take back their health and safety committees to push for real changes to prevent these health and safety hazards.
With 380 delegates working together in the coming days, there is no doubt the discussions will be hot. Solutions and plans for action on these issues will also be a large part of the Conference. Members will have an opportunity to provide recommendations for new CUPE Health and Safety Guidelines on each of the four workshop topics.
Members are calling for renewed action on stress, violence, work overload and health and safety committee effectiveness. Clearly members have had enough of these health and safety hazards. The time has come to put health and safety back on the front burner and demand changes to make CUPE workplaces safer and healthier for all members.