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Fiscal update leaves women, workers cold

This week’s fiscal update confirmed that the Harper government isn’t concerned about workers.

There was no plan to combat a recession, only a divisive and small minded program to fight the opposition,” said Paul Moist.

The update:

• temporarily removed the right to strike in the federal public service;
• warns of plans to “reform” pay equity in the federal public service;
• ignored the EI system where only 40 per cent of those who pay are eligible for poverty-level benefits;
• vaguely addresses pensions but promised nothing to help seniors living in poverty.

Unlike other countries, Canada has no plan to save jobs,” said Moist.  “Our government is opting for belt-tightening, while the U.S., the U.K., and the European Commission have all proposed stimulus plans.  Recessions are when people need government.”

Windsor-Essex paramedics join CUPE

Paramedics in southwest Ontario’s Windsor-Essex region have voted to join CUPE.

CUPE, which won with 120 votes out of 201 ballots cast in the representation vote, will now represent the Windsor-Essex’s 224 paramedics.

We welcome the new members to our growing family,” said National representative Julia Ardiel.  “We are confident that our strength in numbers and experience in the paramedic sector will help elevate the quality of services and improve working conditions for paramedics.”

York and 3903 talking again

CUPE 3903 got York University back to the table this week in a bid to end their strike, which began November 6.

CUPE 3903 spokesperson Rafeef Ziadah said the union’s main issues were:

• benefit funds just above 2005 levels;
• job security for contract faculty;
• subsistence wages that meet the real cost of living in Toronto.

CUPE National President Paul Moist walked the picket lines at York, November 23.

Flaherty speech to P3 trade show ignores financial crisis

Despite P3s being riskier and costlier than ever, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was all about P3s as he gave the keynote address at this week’s Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships conference.

Flaherty confirmed that the government’s secretive and unaccountable privatization agency, known as PPP Canada Inc., will be up and running in 2009.

While the financial crisis has exposed some of the problems with public private partnerships, dubious accounting and “value-for-money” calculations continue to conceal the real costs and risks of P3 projects,” said CUPE economist Toby Sanger.

Minister needs to explain how Nova Scotia private highway would not charge tolls

Danny Cavanagh wants to know how an 85 kilometre stretch of highway between Sutherland’s River and Canso Causeway can be built as a P3 without being a toll highway.

CUPE Nova Scotia’s president, Danny Cavanagh, says, “I think given the glaring inefficiencies of our only existing private highway, Nova Scotians are in no mood to be giving away any more of our roads to some private corporation.”

New report finds problems for staff supporting students with special needs

Educational assistants in BC’s school system put in about 800,000 hours of unpaid work each year according to a new report by CUPE BC.

Recognition & Respect surveyed 40 per cent of the province’s 12,500 educational assistants, about their working conditions.

EAs working off the clock subsidize the public school system by several millions of dollars every year.

Those who fund and administer our school system rely on the fact education assistants feel compelled to donate their own time free of charge to help students”, said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.  “This needs to change.”

Copies of the report are available at www.bceducationassistants.ca.

New Brunswick unionists rally against P3s

Around 300 union activists from across New Brunswick rallied in front of the Legislative Assembly in Fredericton this week against public-private partnerships and privatization.

In the wake of the financial crisis, it is clear that P3 projects make even less sense than before”, said Daniel Légère, CUPE NB president.

Moist slams Free trade with Colombia

Colombia – the largest labour rights offender in the world – has signed a free trade deal with Canada.

I cannot understand why the Prime Minister, who has called China on their human rights violations, is prepared to sign agreements with a country that sees trade unionists murdered at a rate more than the entire world experiences in total”, said Moist.

Moist toured Colombia last summer with other Canadian public sector union leaders.

CUPE 3913 lays on pressure to settle with University of Guelph

More than 500 people have sent e-mails to administrators at the University of Guelph to encourage them to make the most of mediation and settle with its teaching assistants and sessional lecturers.

CUPE 3913 was in mediation this week to avoid a strike by its 1,200 sessional lecturers and teaching assistants.

Outstanding issues include increased workload and class sizes, health and safety concerns and job security.

The two sides will be in a legal strike or lockout position December 1 at 12:01 am.

Add your voice here:  cupe.ca/action/guelph-3913.

:jvp/cope 491