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Disability rights are human rights

December 3 marked International Day for Persons with Disabilities, a day for raising awareness, understanding, and action for the legal and social rights of persons with disabilities.

CUPE’s Persons with Disabilities National Working Group (PWDNWG) has been active on many fronts promoting and defending the rights of persons with disabilities.  Recently, they have produced luggage tags and a poster to raise awareness about disability rights as a human right.  The group has also worked with Union Development to write a new course on disability awareness and creating accommodation-friendly workplaces.

CUPE also recognized the work of disability rights activist Sister Catherine Peters at national convention in October.  Peters was awarded the Disability Rights Activism Award for her inspiring work raising disability rights awareness within the labour movement.

Hamilton airport workers seek fair contract

As the heavy holiday air travel period looms at the John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, 35 CUPE airport workers are trying to secure a fair deal from airport management before the Christmas season to avoid holiday travel disruptions for passengers and cargo flying in and out of the Hamilton airport hub.

Outstanding issues include wages and benefits, scheduling improvements, regular and increased staff training and other issues.  The workers’ last contract expired on October 1, 2008.

We know how important the holiday travel season is for everyone and that’s why we are hoping that management also recognizes this fact, and are willing to hammer out a deal prior to Christmas,” said Derron Vernon, president of CUPE 5167.  “After all, the holidays are about spending time with friends and families and passengers should not be worrying about whether they will be able to get home on time.”

December 6 1989 – Marking 20 years

On December 6, we remember and mourn the 14 women who were murdered at the École Polytechnique in Montréal in 1989.

To help commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Montréal massacre and renew the call for change, CUPE has been involved in a Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) postcard campaign which officially launched on November 16.  The campaign, entitled “20 Days 20 Ways to End Violence against Women,” encourages activists to send one postcard a day to the Prime Minister for the 20 days leading up to December 6.

On December 6, ceremonies across the country will be held to honour the memory of those women who died in Montréal.  We encourage CUPE members and their locals to participate in these events in your communities and to remind political leaders that government action is needed to end violence against women.

Fighting an epidemic

On December 1, CUPE members across Canada wore red ribbons and participated in community events to support World AIDS Day.  See photos and events from Toronto here: http://cupe.ca/hiv/world-aids-day-activities-toronto.

Aboriginal AIDS Awareness week also started on December 1.  The week highlights the increasing rates of HIV infection amongst the Aboriginal peoples within Canada.

CUPE is committed to continuing our international support to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Canadian Labour Congress AIDS Fund.  And this year, CUPE held its first meeting on HIV and AIDS, drawing together activists from across the union, and other civil society groups.

CUPE thanks all members who participated in World AIDS Day events, and urges members to commit to raising HIV and AIDS awareness at your workplace, in your local, and your community.

Governments must act to protect water

A national water policy and a clear commitment from all three levels of government are needed to protect Canadians’ right to water, said a declaration resulting from last weekend’s Blue Summit, a national conference on water issues hosted by CUPE and the Council of Canadians.

The two-day conference drew more than 300 participants from across the country and internationally, including a group of more than 80 CUPE delegates from every province.

CUPE National President Paul Moist stressed the importance of working in coalition at the community level, as well as nationally and internationally.  Key to that work is strengthening solidarity with First Nations communities, to support their struggles for safe drinking water and proper sanitation services.

We don’t accept a society built on greed and private profit, we want a country and a world built on public services and community values, and we won’t rest until that happens,” Moist told participants.

Read the declaration here: http://cupe.ca/water/blue-summit-declaration

More hospital workers give strike mandate

More CUPE hospital workers in Nova Scotia have given their union a strong strike mandate.

CUPE Acute Care Coordinator Wayne Thomas says that “five more groups of health care, service, and clerical workers have given their negotiating committee a strong show of support.”

All of the five groups are represented by CUPE Local 2525.

Eighteen groups of CUPE hospital workers across the province outside the Capital District are holding strike votes.  Last month, CUPE announced there would be no job action in the hospital sector before January 11, 2010 because of the H1N1 pandemic.

Crisis at Le Journal de Québec

Labour relations at Le Journal de Québec have never been worse.  Since the end of the 16-month-long lockout in August 2008, union members have lodged 40 grievances, 32 by the editorial union members alone.  This has never been seen at this daily newspaper founded in 1967.

At the moment, the editorial section is nine employees short.  The employer is also violating the provision stipulating that news coverage in a 30-kilometer radius around Québec City belongs to the reporters and photographers of Le Journal de Québec.

On the union side, the idea of “judiciarizing things that should not be judiciarized” is repugnant.  “We do not see why we would bother the courts, with taxpayers paying the bill, to ask a judge to tell us that 43 is nine less than 52”, said Denis Bolduc, spokesperson for the unionized employees at Le Journal de Québec (CUPE).

Québec’s common front receives a disappointing proposal

On November 30, spokespersons for the common front, representing the QFL, the CNTU, and the SISP, reacted to the government’s proposals in the bargaining of collective agreements in the public and greater-public sectors.

The government’s proposal is far from the legitimate expectations of our members.  The fact that the government’s proposal provides only 7% to cover all labour costs guarantees that there will be no salary increases for our members”, said Louis Roy.

The common front is surprised that the Government of Québec did not take into account the study by the Québec Statistics Institute published last week.  The study concluded that salaries in the public service and in health and education are 8.7% lower than salaries in other sectors of the economy, for comparable positions.

:te/cope 491