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Private company facing criminal negligence charges following city worker fatality

A private company is facing criminal charges over an incident that caused the death of a CUPE member. Millennium Crane Rentals, the crane operator and the crane owner each face charges of criminal negligence causing death. They are scheduled to be in court in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, November 30 and December 6.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, this is one of just four cases in which a company has been charged under the Criminal Code since Bill C-45 (criminal liability of organizations) became law in 2004. The bill sets out rules on criminal liability for organizations and their representatives.

The criminal charges stem from the April 16, 2009 death of municipal worker James Vecchio, who was crushed when a crane fell into an excavated hole he was working in at the Fifth Line Landfill. Millennium Crane Rentals, who was under contract with the city, also faces five charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act related to the condition of the crane and the qualifications of the operator. A court date for those charges is set for January 10, 2011.

Trade ministers urged to deny corporations ability to sue provincial, territorial governments

As federal and provincial trade officials met in Saskatoon on December 3, CUPE joined a broad cross-section of Canadian groups to urge governments not to cave in to demands from corporate groups that they be given the right to sue the provinces and territories under the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).
CUPE and many other organizations are also calling on the federal government to remove this investor-state dispute process from NAFTA and other bilateral trade treaties Canada has signed, and to refrain from including it in the proposed Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Investment treaties have been a disaster globally because of the way they prioritize the protection of property and narrow economic interests over the right to regulate in the public interest. The investor-state dispute process in NAFTA has allowed U.S. investors, and the occasional Canadian firm registered in the U.S., to bypass Canadian courts and directly challenge health, environmental and resource-related policies before private trade panels. Canada has paid out over $150 million to private investors under this process, with $130 million going to just one company - AbitibiBowater - this year.

Alberta Tory documents suggest for-profit health coming after next election

A leaked government document unveiled plans by the Stelmach government to cut the number of health care services offered through Medicare – after the next election. The power point presentation, entitled “Alberta’s Health Legislation – Moving forward” outlines plans for a greater role for private insurance in the province’s health care system.

Former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health Raj Sherman says the government plans to move in this direction after the next election. Sherman was ejected from the government caucus and now sits as an independent in the Alberta Legislature.

View the leaked document at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/44420954/Alberta-s-Health-Legislation-Moving-Forward.

International Day for Persons with Disabilities – December 3

CUPE is very pleased that Canada has joined the majority of the rest of the world by signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - the first UN convention of the 21st century. CUPE, the labour movement and our social justice partners working specifically for persons with disabilities need to work together to ensure that the Canadian government lives up to its new commitment.

In addition, CUPE needs to take up the principles of the convention and ensure that at all levels of our union we too do not discriminate against workers with disabilities. We commit to work with the Persons with Disabilities National Working Group to guide us. Use the Bargaining Equality Binder to check the language in your collective agreement to ensure that persons with disabilities are not discriminated against.

World AIDS Day - December 1

Canada is not immune. Rates of infection went from an estimated 57,000 in 2005 to 65,000 in 2008 (a 14 percent increase). In Canada, access to treatment needs to be improved for people with additional challenges related to drug dependency, mental illness, limited education and unstable housing. Particularly affected are Aboriginal peoples, whose rates of HIV and AIDS infection are rising disproportion-ally to other groups.

Those with HIV and AIDS continue to face discrimination and sometimes criminalization. Testing and privacy are among the most pressing human rights issues facing those living with HIV and AIDS. Canada is one of the nations leading the way in adopting laws and policies that make matters worse. The Harper government has fuelled the spread of the virus in Canada through a moralistic war on drugs that criminalizes drug users, and by opposing safe injection sites. These measures fly in the face of growing evidence that harm reduction strategies have a proven track record of reducing the rate of HIV and AIDS transmission.
Use the Bargaining Equality binder to help check that the language in your collective agreement ensures that persons with HIV and AIDS are not discriminated against.

CUPE condemns harassment of Iranian union activists

Paul Moist recently sent a letter to the Iranian government protesting the continuing harassment of union activists in that country. Over the last month, several union activists have been arrested and detained. The letter calls for their immediate release. CUPE has been informed by the ITUC that on November 23, Morteza Komsari, a member of the Vahed Syndicate, was detained.

On November 17, the court of Shush issued six-month sentences for three Haft Tapeh workers, Alireza Saeedi, Behrooz Mollah Zadeh and Behrooz Nikoofar for “insulting the leader”. On November 9, Homayoun Jabari was held at branch four of the Rajai Shahr prison for eleven days. He was arrested on Tuesday when he accompanied the wife of Gholamreza Gholamhosseini to the Intelligence Office to try and discover her husband’s whereabouts. On November 20 he was released on bail of $30,000 USD.

On November 3, Saeed Torabian, Communications Director of the bus workers’ union and fellow trade unionist Gholamreza Gholamhosseini in Vahed Syndicate were attacked in a Karaj Internet café. Shortly after their arrival, six men entered behind them and beat them up.  They were then dragged out and taken to prison.

Restoring Special Diet Allowance the right thing to do, CUPE Ontario

Faced with staggeringly high increases in food bank usage, the McGuinty Liberals made the right decision by reinstating the Special Diet Allowance, said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn on December 1.
On November 30, the government announced that it would keep the supplement, which can provide up to an extra $250.00 to social assistance recipients. The average monthly amount of social assistance for a single person is $585.00 a month, and that doesn’t change while awaiting the recommendations of a program review that will cost $3.5 million. More than 850,000 men, women and children live on some form of social assistance in Ontario. A fraction of them—about 140,000—received the Special Diet Allowance.

Through its own campaigns, and alongside other anti-poverty and social justice advocates, CUPE Ontario will continue to push the government to show more fairness. “Campaigns like the Do the Math Challenge, where hundreds of Ontarians tried to live for a week from the contents of a food bank hamper, have had a huge impact on this debate because it puts the issue in real terms people understand,” said Hahn.

Government should take the time to consult Islanders

CUPE PEI is calling on the provincial government to resist the establishment of private degree granting post secondary institutions in the province.

We are very concerned with the Government decision to bring forward a new Degree Granting Act opening the door to private post secondary institutions”, said Milo Murray, president of CUPE PEI. “We share the concerns voiced by many in the academic community and the President of UPEI that are strongly against the proposed changes and we are asking for a full consultation on this important piece of legislation.

This legislation would clear the way for the proposed Homburg University that would grant master’s degrees in real estate. Such an institution would serve the interest of its owner, real estate developer Richard Homburg, not the public.”

Recent private bus inspection failure shows need for action in New Brunswick

The union representing school bus drivers in New Brunswick says the government should not wait for another tragedy to occur and take action before implementing the use of school buses for extra-curricular activities.
“Last week’s incident where two private charter buses carrying 60 students were pulled off the road because the tires were unsafe only reinforces the need to use school buses for those trips”, said the president of the New Brunswick Council of School District Unions (CUPE 1253), Delalene Harris Foran. “We are pleased that Education Minister Jody Carr immediately told schools not to use private bus companies until they investigate this incident. We believe the Minister should go a step further and implement the coroner’s inquest recommendation on the use of school buses for extra-curricular activities. ”

The coroner’s inquest specified, “Nothing less than a qualified Class 2-B yellow school bus driver with endorsements for school buses and air brakes should be used for travel to off-site extra-curricular events. Teachers, coaches and parents, as well as volunteers, should not drive children to off-site events.”

Fairness, respect long overdue for B.C. community social services workers

The thousands of community social services workers who make British Columbia a better place to live have waited long enough to achieve justice in the workplace, a mass labour rally was told on December 2 in Vancouver. A BCGEU activist, noting that nine different unions are at the bargaining table for community social services, applauded CUPE’s large presence at the rally, as the union’s flags formed a sea of pink through the crowd.

CUPE 1936 president Michael Lanier said that the BC Liberal government has run out of stalling tactics in its failure to reach an agreement with community social services workers. After a decade with no wage increases or benefit improvements, he said, B.C.’s lowest paid public employees deserve an agreement now.

P3 white elephant draws a crowd in Penticton

It was standing room only at a press conference in Penticton, B.C., on November 28, when CUPE Anti-Privatization Coordinator Robin Roff released the report A White Elephant in Wine Country. The report examines the privatization of the South Okanagan Events Centre and the impact of this public-private partnership on the community.
“Evidence shows that residents of Penticton are paying a very high price for the City’s decision to enter into a 20-year public-private partnership,” said Roff. The report looks at the deal, costs, financing and the problems and broken promises four years later.

Read the report at:


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