Workers in municipalities across the country are facing privatization, cuts, precarious work, attacks on pension plans, and a tough bargaining environment.

The municipal sector council focused on resisting attacks on pension plans. CUPE pension researcher Mark Janson outlined a roadmap for members to defend defined benefit pension plans.

Panelists described how CUPE members mobilized against employer attacks on defined benefit plans in Halifax, Alberta and Quebec - where the fight continues.

Solidarity and strength were the key to workers at the Halifax Water Commission emerging from a 59-day lockout with their defined benefit pension protected for future members. The struggle united members of two locals, even those who were members of a different plan.

“We have to stand up and fight back, because a pension injury to one is a pension injury to all,” said CUPE 1431 President Heather Corkum.

A well-organized coalition and unrelenting public pressure forced the Alberta government to scrap deep cuts to the Local Authorities Pension Plan. Now, the unions are working for joint governance of the plan, said CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts.

CUPE Quebec General Secretary Denis Bolduc described how CUPE and other labour allies faced down a provincial government attack on free collective bargaining and municipal pension plans. The unions’ latest move is a legal challenge to the forced changes that affect 60,000 workers and retirees.

Members also learned from the ongoing struggle against water privatization in Greece. Privatization is one facet of deep cuts being imposed on the country, said George Archontopoulos, president of the union representing Thessaloniki water workers.