Our ongoing dispute with the IWA-Canada and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) remains unresolved.
By way of re-cap, it has been well documented how the BC Campbell governments Bill 29 removed the legislated successor rights and contract provisions protecting workers from contracting out. In the face of this legislative assault, the government moved to contract out support staff work.
Three corporations (Sodexho, Aramark and Compass) began approaching unions to sign partnership (or voluntary) agreements to represent contractor staff. The BCGEU and UFCW both refused such overtures. The IWA-Canada did not. Their largest BC local inked deals that slash wages in half, eliminate pensions and reduce benefits. These agreements are imposed on workers seeking work with contractors.
CUPEs complaint that these so-called partnership agreements constituted a violation of the CLC Constitution was upheld by a CLC appointed impartial umpire. CUPE sought the IWAs withdrawal from all such agreements, failing this, we sought the imposition of stage 3 sanctions on the IWA-Canada. This motion was defeated by the CLC Executive Committee.
A substitute motion (not supported by CUPE) was adopted, seeking to put a fence around contracts awarded prior to the CLC umpires decision. Since the November 2003 CLC Executive meeting, this resolution has not been complied with by the IWA-Canada. The issues in dispute therefore remain unresolved.
A number of important points are worth noting, arising out of this dispute:
- To date we have lost about 3,000 jobs and this work (mostly womens work) has been devalued. Wages have been cut in half and pensions eliminated. As a union we need to mobilize support both within and outside of CUPE to oppose the BC governments privatization and their elimination of fundamental trade union rights.
- It is near impossible for us to fight a right-wing government, global corporations and a CLC affiliate.
- The CLC Constitution and structure does not provide an effective means to deal with affiliates who engage in activities that divide our movement.
- We have tremendous support among federations of labour, labour councils and rank-and-file union activists.
- Our efforts must continue to force the CLC leadership to deal with the IWA-Canada and to have them withdraw from the so-called Partnership Agreements.