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CUPE marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20

On November 20, events took place across the country as Canadians mark the twelfth annual International Transgendered Day of Remembrance. Paul Moist and Claude Généreux emphasized the importance of the date and encouraged members to participate in local events in a joint letter to CUPE chartered organizations.

The day of remembrance— which began as a candlelight vigil in 1999 in San Francisco following the murder of Rita Hester—has grown tremendously over the past eleven years, and is now celebrated around the world. Violence against transgender people is a serious issue that often isn’t covered by the mainstream media. Studies show that sixty per cent of transgender people reported being victims of violence.

In Ottawa a march to Parliament Hill was held in support of Bill C-389, a private member’s bill introduced by New Democrat LGBTT critic Bill Siksay. The bill amends the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada to include proper references to gender identity and gender expression. Bill C-389 passed its second reading on November 2, and could come up for debate and a vote in the House of Commons by December.

Only democracy can save Swaziland public sector

Trade unionists attending a workshop as part of a CUPE/South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) project joined with others in Johannesburg on November 18 in a picket to support the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). The day before, police attacked those marching inside Swaziland to protest the Tinkhundla regime and the economic crisis it has created.

The country’s reigning monarch, King Mswati III, has grown rich in a country where 25 per cent of the population has HIV/AIDS – the highest rate in the world, according to the Peoples United Democratic Movement of Swaziland. He reportedly owns 40 per cent of Swazi mines and more than half of the sugar companies that produce syrup for Coca-Cola in Southern Africa. The government’s response to the economic crisis has been to threaten the layoff of about 10,000 public sector workers – one-third of the country’s public service.

Carleton University office, professional and technical staff approve tentative agreement

Support staff at Carleton University, representing CUPE 2424, have voted 97 per cent in favour of a tentative agreement with the administration, averting a strike that was scheduled to commence on November 19. Highlights of the new collective agreement include improvements in job security and wage increases in each of the four years of the collective agreement.

This month, Carleton University has faced strike deadlines by all three of its major labour groups representing faculty, support staff, teaching assistants and contract instructors.

Tentative agreement at Carleton University

On November 20, Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Contact Instructors (CIs) at Carleton University (represented by CUPE 4600) reached tentative settlements with the administration, averting a strike. The bargaining committees for both Unit 1 TAs and Unit 2 Contract Instructors will recommend the proposed settlements to the members later this week. Details of the proposed collective agreements will not be released until CUPE 4600 members have had an opportunity to review all details and vote on the recommendations. The University Board of Directors will also vote to ratify the agreement.
In addition, CUPE 4600 stands in solidarity with both the Carleton Undergraduate Student Association and the Graduate Student Association, who are still fighting to have the Carleton Administration release their fees.

University of Ottawa teaching assistants vote for strike mandate

On November 15, members of the CUPE 2626 voted to give their bargaining committee the tool to negotiate a fair agreement. This Local represents 3,800 teaching assistants, research assistants, correctors, lab monitors, and has been without a contract since August 31. Members voted by more than 81 per cent for a strike mandate. The bargaining committee explained, during the assembly, its three main goals revolving around the themes of equity, security and efficiency.

On November 18, the union and employer’s representatives were scheduled to meet with the help of a conciliator in the hope that an objective third party might assist with achieving
a fair contract.

CUPE urges commons committee to support Bill C-469

CUPE has pledged its support to a federal bill that would enshrine in law the right of all Canadians to a healthy environment.  Key components of the private members bill sponsored by NDP MP Linda Duncan (Edmonton-Strathcona) include: ensuring access to environmental information and the right to participate in decisions related to the environment, expanding the right to request investigations of environmental offences and bring environmental issues to the courts, providing whistleblower protection for employees, and ensuring accountability by giving Canadians the right to bring the federal government to court when it fails to enforce environmental laws.

Matthew Firth, Senior Officer for CUPE’s Health, Safety and Environment Branch, presented CUPE’s submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on November 17.

Read CUPE’s Statement to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on Bill C-469 at: http://cupe.ca/environment/urges-commons-committee-support-bill-c.

CUPE condemns killing of trade union activist in Philippines

CUPE is deeply saddened to learn of the recent death of brother Carlo “Caloy” Rodriguez. In a letter from Paul Moist, our sincere condolences were sent to his family and his fellow trade union activists. CUPE strongly condemns this murder and calls on President Aquino to ensure the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice.

A CUPE National Global Justice delegation to the Philippines in January 2010 had the honour of meeting with Caloy in his capacity as the President of the Water District Union, an affiliate of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) in the Laguna district of the Philippines. Caloy had informed our delegation of his union’s campaign against the privatization of their district water supply.

CUPE members are encouraged to take action by sending an email or letter to the President of the Republic of the Philippines. Demand an end to human rights abuses and an end to extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. Read the letter from Paul Moist at: http://cupe.ca/global-justice/condemns-killing-trade-union-activist.

Report shows alarming increase in people needing food banks

Paul Moist says a new Food Banks Canada report reveals an alarming increase in food bank usage across Canada. The HungerCount 2010 report, released today in Ottawa, shows a 28 per cent increase in food bank visits over the last two years – the largest increase on record.

The report also shows more than a third of people needing food bank assistance are under 18 years old. Another seven per cent of assisted households rely on pensions for income.

Read the HungerCount 2010 report at: http://foodbankscanada.ca/main2.cfm?id=107185CB-B6A7-8AA0-6FE6B5477106193A.

Northumberland Hall employees in Amherst vote to join CUPE

Employees at Northumberland Hall, a licensed nursing home owned by Shannex in Amherst, Nova Scotia, have voted 100 per cent in favour of joining CUPE. Northumberland Hall is a licensed nursing home owned and operated by Shannex. The facility opened in the winter of 2010. The new bargaining unit, Local 5018, is comprised of approximately 45 employees in the following classifications: Continuing Care Assistant, Recreation Assistant, Physiotherapy Assistant, Occupational Therapy Assistant and Support Service Attendant.

CUPE NL meets with provincial trade minister on Canada/E.U. trade deal

On November 15, CUPE NL president Wayne Lucas met with provincial Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development Shawn Skinner to discuss the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union.

We let the Minister know CUPE’s concerns in a range of areas. For example, we are very concerned about European demands for significant limits on the use of local and provincial purchasing to support local jobs and businesses in our communities. That European demand could be very harmful for job creation and public services,” Lucas said. Other issues covered at the meeting included investor rights, pharmaceutical patents and fisheries.

Night shift puts workers health at risk, UBC study finds

Working the night shift puts workers at a higher risk for injury according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia. Published on the website of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health in October, the study notes that though the rate of compensated work injuries in Canada decreased overall between 1996 and 2006, rates of compensated injuries on night shifts did not decline. The study also noted that during both night shifts and rotating shifts women had a higher rate of work injury than their male counterparts.

Lead author of the research study and Ph.D. candidate Imelda Wong concluded that, “Additional occupational health and safety policies and programs are needed to reduce risk of work injury among night and rotating shift workers, especially among women.”
There were approximately 2.7 million lost-time injury compensation claims awarded in 2006 according to the study. Of those, approximately 107,000 claims from men and 200,000 from women can be attributed to shift work—costing over $50 million dollars in lost-time claims.

Read CUPE’s Shiftwork factsheet at: http://cupe.ca/health-and-safety/Shiftwork_Fact_Sheet.
Read the original research article at: http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=3124.

Resource optimization” in Canadian universities threatens education, job security

Several universities and colleges across Canada have begun implementing “resource optimization”, a review designed to cut costs of administrative and academic support services. CUPE members from York and other affected campuses have raised concerned that the new strategy could jeopardize their work, as well as access to quality, affordable, public post-secondary education.

On November 12, York University announced they’d be pursuing a “Process Re-engineering and Service Enhancement review” with PricewaterhouseCoopers. The University of Calgary, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Ottawa have already started with a project called the Resource Optimization and Service Enhancement (ROSE) review, also conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The University of Calgary review resulted in significant staff reductions. The review at the University of Ottawa includes looking at a hiring freeze, reducing pension costs and unpaid leaves.

CUPE members are asked to let CUPE National know about consultants engaged in restructuring on their campus. Researchers will track trends and report on them. Send information in an email to: pse@cupe.ca.


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