As we enter 2017, Canadians are once again looking to us to help build better lives for workers. They are looking to CUPE to help build a better Canada.
Canadians are being conditioned to expect less and less from their employers. Dead-end jobs, with low wages and no benefits, are becoming the norm. Jobs with little to no security, fewer and inferior benefits, less control over working conditions, employers demanding ‘flexibility’, which almost always means more casual, more part-time and more term positions - these are the characteristics of precarious work.
Today, as many as one third of all jobs in Canada can be considered precarious, and they are most likely held by the most vulnerable. Women are more likely to work less than 30 hours per week and have no benefits. Young workers are less likely to have workplace pensions, or sick leave. Racialized and Indigenous workers are far more likely to be precariously employed.
There is a clear link between the spread of precarious work and continued inequality in our society. As Canada’s largest union, CUPE has a responsibility to take a stand.
The public services our members provide are the great equalizers in society, so we must not for a moment rest or relent in out fight against privatization. We must continue to support campaigns across Canada to raise the minimum wage and to fight for living wages. We must fight harder then ever for pay equity, and fair wages – for our members, and for each and every worker in this country.
But most of all we must use our most powerful tool in bettering the lives of Canadian workers. The best tool to fight for equality, to halt the spread of precarious work, to make sure every Canadian can earn a good decent wage, in a safe workplace. That tool is organizing the unorganized, allowing workers the best way to a better work life – a union, and a collective agreement.
We know a union is the best path to fair wages, good pensions and benefits, and more secure jobs. Everyone in our great union must play a role in organizing. With your help and dedication, we can ensure the next generation of workers enjoys the benefits that CUPE members have already fought for and won.
Together in 2017 we can keep building CUPE, and keep building a better Canada for all workers.