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National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux sent a strong message to health and safety activists in his closing address to the National Health and Safety Conference Sunday in Montreal.

You our health and safety activists you are leaders in CUPE, said Généreux. After all, where does unionism start? It starts with creating decent working conditions and improving the lives of working people.

He noted that the conference was a working conference that would produce new tools guidelines such as those on Overwork and Stress, which came out of the 2001 conference for the benefit of all CUPE members. The new tools will include guidelines on ergonomics, workplace toxins, indoor air quality and the joint committees guide.

It is our work that causes change. We, the labour activists make things happen, he said. You heard from Katherine Lippel Friday night. She looks closely at the issues, the regulatory and legislative changes that affect our working lives. She can tell you the impact we have had on health and safety standards and the recognition of our right to healthy workplaces.

Généreux said that the conference theme Step up! Take Action was both timely and fitting.

When I say that health and safety is a core activity in CUPE, it is not just rhetoric. It is integral to the direction CUPE members voted on unanimously at our last national convention, he said.

I encourage you to take all that you have learned, all that has energized you this weekend back directly into your workplaces and into your committees.