Carolyn Unsworth gave a strong and stirring presentation on her work as an environmental activist at CUPE’s 11th National Health and Safety Conference held October 12-14 in Ottawa. Sister Unsworth is an HEU member and its representative on CUPE’s National Environment Committee. She was asked to speak at the conference to give a worker’s perspective on how to effect change. Sister Unsworth described her tireless efforts to promote greener work practices, and her international efforts to speak for labour at recent global climate change summits in Copenhagen and Mexico.
Sister Unsworth told the 500 CUPE members present about Canada’s horrible reputation on the world stage on environmental issues, and about our federal government’s shameful environmental record. She talked about how workers need to be part of the solutions to the planet’s global environmental problems, both on a community and international scale. Her efforts have paid off. For example, she gave a presentation in Mexico at the World of Work conference that was part of COP 16, so that a frontline worker’s story about how climate change is affecting our communities could be told.
The National Health and Safety Conference had an environmental component to it for the first time. In addition to Sister Unsworth’s contribution, Tony Clarke from the Polaris Institute was part of a panel that discussed the urgent need for activism on health and environmental issues. Also, more than 200 CUPE members took part in a new workshop on environmental issues and environmental workplace actions, helping to spread the word that more sustainable work practices can ease our impact on the planet.