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OTTAWA Staff cuts and office closures at CUSO, Canadas first volunteer-sending global social justice organization, threaten CUSOs long-term viability, warns Local 2440 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing staff at CUSO in offices across Canada and around the world.

Without any meaningful consultation with frontline staff, CUSO management is closing Canadian area offices and eliminating the jobs of people who have made CUSO a leader in the fight for global social justice, said John Gillies, CUPE national representative.

CUPE represents CUSO staff in Canada and in offices around the world, who work with volunteers and organizations to foster equality and freedom, safeguard cultures and communities, and protect the environment. CUSO management is closing area offices in Canada, declaring 74 positions redundant overseas and in Canada, while creating additional management positions overseas and concentrating operations in Ottawa.

It is ironic that an organization so strongly self-identified with global social justice would proceed with layoffs without fully investigating the alternatives, said Gillies. Management is even looking at eliminating union representation on the Board of Directors of CUSO its frightening to see a progressive organization stray from its social-democratic roots to this degree.

CUSOs identity as an organization that supports global movements for social change, is being abandoned in this new model for the organization, added Gillies. CUSO will lose staff with years of experience and knowledge and that will hurt the organization for years to come.

CUPE is calling on CUSOs partners in Canada to contact CUSOs Executive Director, Claire Dansereau, and the Board of Directors, to demand they stop the cuts and sit down with workers and partners to come up with a realistic plan that will help CUSO secure its future as a leader in the world of international development.

Many important constituents and supporters of CUSO will be left demoralized by the staff cuts and office closings, said Gillies. CUSO will lose some of its current support base in Canada, which staff have built up through years of direct contact. Much of that support relies of direct, in-person contact with staff in area offices.

CUSO receives government funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), but also relies heavily on fundraising and donations from supporters to carry out its work.

We urge CUSO management to sit down with CUPE, with the necessary research, analysis and evaluation to permit sound participatory discussions about the future of the organization, said Gillies. CUPE also called on management to postpone the restructuring for six months to allow time for proper study and consultation.

The proposed changes will undermine CUSOs distinctiveness as a Canadian international development organization, warned Gillies. This has the potential to increase CUSOs dependence on CIDA, leading to future funding challenges lets sit down together and find a better way before its too late.


For further information, please contact:
Leela Acharya, Co-Chair CUPE 2440 416-596-2266, ext 23
John Gillies, CUPE National Rep Ottawa Area Office 613-237-0115
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications 416-292-3999