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More than 110 members, many of them first timers to a CUPE conference, met in Regina October 3-5 for the first joint Saskatchewan-Manitoba health & safety conference.

‘Taking back our health and safety rights’ was the conference theme and members had a chance to learn more about the issues in five workshops: violence, workload, stress, health & safety committees and the new ‘hidden hazards’ workshop dealing with occupational diseases and cancers.

Keynote speaker National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Gnreux told delegates that now is the time to go on the offensive with employers and governments who are slamming the door on workers’ rights to open the door wide for the ‘new economy.’

CUPE activists tell us that they are dealing with renewed attacks on their livelihoods and well-being. They want their union, CUPE, to be a shield against policies that would throw our society back to the dark ages,” said Gnreux. “This health and safety conference, the one held in BC last week, and others like it, are part of our efforts to ensure that the fight for health and safety remains on the front lines in our union.”

The new Workload guideline, developed from work done at last year’s CUPE National Health & Safety conference, made its debut at the conference and was quickly scooped up by members. The Workload guideline will be distributed to all locals in an upcoming mailing.

CUPE National Health & Safety Branch Director Anthony Pizzino says the conference attracted many new members, a good number of them women members who work in health care.

“By the attendance in workshops on workload and stress, it’s plain to see that front-line CUPE members are bearing the brunt of the cut-backs and erosion in our health care system,” says Pizzino. “Inter-province conferences like this encourage members to become more active about the issues. One member told others in her workshop that she’d been a CUPE member for 17 years and this was the first conference she’d ever attended.”