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At their sector meeting at the CUPE national convention, water and wastewater members tapped into the energy of local and global water campaigns.

Margarita López gave an inspiring overview of Colombian water worker struggles in coalition with community and environmental groups. These worker-community alliances have stopped water privatization and are pushing to make the human right to water a reality for millions of Colombians who have no safe drinking water.  Lopez is the president of the Colombian water workers’ union SINTRACUAVALLE.

Access to safe drinking water is also a major issue in Canada, where more than 100 First Nations communities have undrinkable water. CUPE Aboriginal officer Don Moran outlined steps CUPE is taking with Aboriginal workers to tackle the on-reserve water crisis.

In Abbotsford, a powerful coalition is standing strong against intense local and federal pressure for a 30-year water P3. CUPE BC privatization coordinator Diane Kalen-Sukra shared the coalition’s strategy to defeat the privatization in an upcoming referendum this fall.

CUPE researcher Kelti Cameron described how new federal wastewater standards are environmentally sound, but could open the door to sewage privatization. CUPE is responding to the standards by pushing for federal funding to pay for plant upgrades, and organizing for upgraded worker training that will keep sewage public.