Throne speech fails to impress
This week’s throne speech showed us a federal government that has learned almost nothing about what caused the economic crisis and has no credible solutions to get out of it.
Instead, the speech trotted out the same failed policies that got us into this economic mess: more privatization, deregulation, cuts to public programs, free trade agreements, wage constraints, and neutering government through a “Charter of Open Federalism”.
And in these turbulent economic times, the government advocates greater investment of public funds in risky public-private partnerships.
The economic crisis will produce higher unemployment, yet the EI system has been neglected to the point that only one in four workers qualify for poverty-level benefits.
The speech also ignores workers’ pensions that have been decimated by the financial crisis.
Most egregious is the government’s intention to overturn free collective bargaining by legislating wages of federal public servants.
Québec wind energy conference
CUPE’s Hydro-Québec locals’ two-day conference on Québec wind energy is unpacking who is benefitting from the exploitation of wind power in the province.
The organizers support wind energy development, but believe it should be Hydro-Québec building wind farms, not the private sector.
Instead, the Charest government’s wind farm development follows its privatization agenda.
Where a “made in Québec approach” might have afforded the province local procurement opportunities and other forms of local economic development, foreign company-led development offers none.
And taxpayers will have to absorb the costs of bad planning and of relying on private financing and development.
Winnipeg opens door to privatized water
Winnipeg city council is on the road to privatizing the operation and management of its drinking water and sewage treatment.
Council has decided to explore setting up a Municipal Corporate Utility (city-owned but arms length corporation) to operate water, sewage and possibly energy services. City council also voted to use a “strategic partner” (otherwise known as privatization through a P3) to finance, design, build, and operate two water and wastewater plants.
CUPE 500 and a broad coalition of community, environmental, student and church groups opposed the move and called on the city to build on existing public capacity.
Winnipeg city councillor Jenny Gerbasi opposed the plans, calling them a “drastic move away from public control of core city services” that “is on the fast track”. She and three other pro-public councillors raised questions of accountability and direct control.
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CUPE members vote in BC
CUPE members took part in elections for municipal council, board of education, and regional district representatives November 15.
More than half of the 180 CUPE-endorsed candidates were elected. More than 30 CUPE members ran for office. Close to half were elected.
Many communities - including Victoria, Vancouver, Burnaby, Victoria, and Richmond - elected progressive leadership.
Across BC the average voter turnout was just over 22%. Wells scored the highest with a 92.54% turnout while the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District was the lowest with 5.33%.
CUPE sponsors conference on bullying
About 300 people - including CUPE members - attended a ground-breaking conference on workplace bullying and psychological harassment, at the University of Victoria November 11-14.
The conference, “Creating Respectful Workplaces,” featured evening presentations open to the public and advanced training for CUPE members on combating bullying and psychological harassment and how to support members who are being bullied.
Keynote speaker Barbara Coloroso moved conference-goers with her address, “The Bully, Bullied, and Bystander”.
Claude Généreux also told delegates about psychological harassment legislation that came into effect in June, 2004 in Québec. He recognized the work of conference sponsors and called on CUPE locals and district councils to offer similar opportunities for members across Canada.
Sign up for the Women’s Bargaining Conference
CUPE members from across the country will gather in Montréal, Québec February 10-13, 2009 for the National Bargaining Women’s Equality Conference.
Register online before January 11, 2009 at:
Watch Conformia: http://cupe.ca/bargaining/conformia, a conference promotional video.