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On June 5 CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev) presented its annual solidarity award for international development work jointly to CUPE National and CUPE BC.

The award recognizes CUPE’s groundbreaking work promoting international solidarity with workers in Colombia. Barbara Wood, Executive Director of CoDev (and proud member of CUPE Local 1004), presented the award to Edgar Godoy, chair of the CUPE National Global Justice Committee, and Colleen Jordan, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE BC.

CUPE has taken a lead role within Canadian unions in working with Colombian unions. Colombia is the most dangerous country to be a union member, with over 200 union activists assassinated each year. CUPE believes the Canadian labour movement must take a stand against these atrocities.

The CUPE National Global Justice Committee supported two CUPE representatives on a CLC tour to Colombia in 2002, meeting with public sector unions and building solidarity. This year, CUPE co-sponsored a tour of five Colombian union members through the west and the Atlantic in May.

The theme was how privatization affected Colombian unions, and how it will affect Canadian unions. The CUPE BC International Solidarity Committee is sponsoring a project, with assistance from the National Global Justice Fund, to provide human and labour rights training for SINTRAEMCALI members, the public workers union in Cali, which is the second largest city in Colombia.

CUPE has worked with CoDev to make these projects happen – and CoDev has recognized our work with this award. CoDev is western Canada’s only non-governmental organization linking Canadian unions and other progressive groups with projects in Latin America.

Their emphasis is on workers’ rights, women’s empowerment, sustainable development and capacity building. Their belief that northern partners have much to learn from their southern partners is integral to CoDev’s work.

For more information about the National Global Justice Committee, contact Sandra Sorensen. For more information about the CUPE BC International Solidarity Committee, contact Jim Gorman.