WTO/GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TRADE IN SERVICES (GATS)
Negotiations on the GATS are well underway in Geneva. The GATS is one of the trade agreements that falls under the jurisdiction of the WTO and current talks are aimed at eliminating barriers to trade in health care, education and municipal services, including water. CUPE has been working with the CLC, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and the Canadian Arts Council to strengthen our Common Front on the WTO and to stop the Canadian government from expanding the GATS and turning the Canadian public sector into a huge, international marketplace. This initiative will include further research on the impact of expanded trade in services, educational materials for our members, developing a workshop for our members, organizing teach-ins and actions against the GATS in targeted communities and building alliances against the GATS outside of Canada. And we are going to do everything we can with our partners in the Common Front to ensure the GATS becomes a key election issue.
Sister Laurie Stone of Local 974 in Saskatchewan has just returned from a visit to Chile as part of a project to partner health care workers in Saskatchewan with their counterparts in Chile. Her trip included meetings with workers, the union, health officials and health care facilities and proved to be a valuable exchange of information and an important tool for furthering the links between health care workers in our two countries.
In part one of a two-part project funded by Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Brother Ken Davidson of Local 1004 and our International Solidarity Committee, spent two weeks in South Africa in an exchange between CUPE and the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU). SAMWU members are facing many of the same challenges as municipal workers here privatization and restructuring of municipal services, particularly water, and restrictions on public sector collective bargaining rights. Brother Davidson was there to explore those issues of common concern and areas where we might work together to share information, strategies and union development. Part two of this exciting project will see a SAMWU representative travel to Canada and Sister Mary-Lou Tanner of Local 5167 in Hamilton, travel to South Africa to follow up on proposals like developing and delivering training for bargaining and political action strategies.