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Balanced budget should not be our only goal

An article by CUPE National President Paul Moist was published February 25 in the National Post.  The following is an extract from the article.

As the country emerges from recession, our federal government will be faced with spending choices that will affect Canadians for years to come.  How the government chooses to spend – or not spend – in the coming federal budget will define us as a nation, and will strongly impact quality of life for all Canadians.  With looming infrastructure, education, and social deficits, a balanced budget should not be our only goal.  (…)

In a time of deficit, public spending boosts employment while creating something of lasting value for future generations.  Investing today for better economic and social well-being tomorrow should not be seen as a fiscal burden.  However, focusing solely on erasing a manageable deficit, while failing to invest in the future, could leave a legacy of social imbalance that may be felt for decades.

The full article can be found at http://cupe.ca/fiscal-policy/paul-moist-deficit-wait

Get active for World Water Day

Across Canada and around the world, water activists are mobilizing to mark March 22, World Water Day.  It’s an opportunity for CUPE members to re-energize their work protecting public water systems and community water resources.

For a list of ideas on how you can get active in your community, as well as for more background on the state of Canada’s water, visit http://cupe.ca/water/active-world-water-day

Québec Common Front: Time is running out!

On February 22, spokespersons for the Québec Common Front, Lucie Martineau, of the Secrétariat intersyndical des services publics (SISP), Claudette Carbonneau, from the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) and Michel Arsenault, from the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) asked for an intensification of bargaining and for tangible signs from the government, which would enable the work to move forward.

According to the Common Front’s spokespersons, “With 38 days to go until the decree runs out, everything must be put into play in order to reach the goal of concluding the bargaining by March 31, the expiry date of the current collective agreements, as we requested.  However, clearly the government would have to make a complete about-face for that to happen.”

Also on February 22, hundreds of Common Front union members demonstrated in front of the National Assembly at dinner time.

Saskatchewan health care workers call on government to negotiate

Saskatchewan health care workers rallied in Regina today, demanding that the government get back to the bargaining table and address workplace concerns. 

We want a fair collective agreement for health care providers, one that recognizes and values our work in the workplace, and one that will provide the citizens of Saskatchewan a better health care system,” said Gordon Campbell, president of the CUPE Health Care Council.

All across the province, health care workers have been sending a clear message that the government needs to get back to the bargaining table.  Yesterday, CUPE health care workers held a rally in Weyburn, outside the office of MLA Dustin Duncan, while SEIU health care workers greeted Premier Brad Wall in Swift Current today.

Saskatchewan health care providers have been without a new contract for nearly two years and haven’t had a wage increase in nearly three years.  The Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations has refused to meet face-to-face with the health care provider unions since December 1 – a move that has brought negotiations to a stand-still.

Raising awareness about repetitive strain injuries

February 28, 2010 is the 11th annual Repetitive Strain Injuries awareness day, started by a group of injured activists to raise public awareness about the causes of repetitive strain injuries, their devastating effects, ways to eliminate the risks and secure just compensation.

Repetitive strain injuries are the most common type of workplace injury in Canada.  A Statistic Canada study has found that more than two million (nearly one in 15) Canadians have experienced a repetitive strain injury serious enough to affect their normal activities.

With cutbacks to the public sector increasing the workloads of CUPE members, we need to be on the lookout more than ever for RSI symptoms and to renew our call for employers to take these conditions seriously.

For more information on how to spot - and stop - repetitive strain injuries, visit www.cupe.ca/rsi/

Montréal blue-collar workers hold festival at City Hall

On the evening of February 22, more than 2,000 outside workers gathered in front of City Hall in a friendly and festive frame of mind.  They were responding to their union’s invitation to attend the “Festibleu”, an event inspired by tailgate parties.  Soup, hot dogs, and dancing were on the menu for union members, and many attended and ate together outside.

Members of CUPE 301 joined their president, Michel Parent, who went inside to ask questions of the Municipal Council.

The 5,000 or so City of Montréal outside workers began their rotating strike on January 25, which is due to continue until March 5.  They have been without a contract since August 31, 2007.  The main stumbling blocks for the talks are job security and contracting out that the union feels is excessive.

Competitive bidding risks further damage to Ontario’s home care system

CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Health Coalition have launched a province-wide media tour to draw attention to the state of Ontario’s home care system – where the McGuinty Liberal government is threatening to lift a ban on competitive bidding for service contracts.

CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Health Coalition are demanding that the moratorium on competitive bidding be made permanent and the government start rebuilding a system of direct home care service, rather than continue to expand in the contracting out regime brought in by Mike Harris’ Conservative government.

Paris water back in public hands

Public water activists around the world are toasting the end of privatized water in Paris, where the city has ended a quarter century of private control. 

This change is part of a wave of local activism that has ended privatization in more than
40 French communities.  Other municipalities are renegotiating their contracts to cap outrageous profits.

France’s local water “renaissance” has global significance.  In 2012, the corporate-dominated World Water Forum will be held in Marseilles.  As with every forum since 2001, activists are mobilizing to oppose the forum’s pro-privatization agenda and promote public alternatives.

Report a “reality check” on women’s equality

While the Harper government boasts progress in women’s equality, a new report from labour and women’s groups says that Canadian women have lost considerable ground in the last 15 years.

The report, entitled Reality Check: Women in Canada and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Fifteen Years On, will be used at the Beijing +15 meeting at the United Nations in New York next month.

CUPE is one of the many signatories on the report.  Supporters hope that the document will serve as a “reality check” describing Canada’s lagging performance on women’s equality.

The report can be found at www.cupe.ca/women/

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