Dear Sisters and Brothers:
This reporting period has been an incredibly busy one for our union with collective bargaining throughout Canada. In Ontario, our very right to engage in free collective bargaining is in question as detailed within this report.
Hundreds of our members in British Columbia have been on picket lines in a very harsh “net zero” bargaining mandate in the dying days of the Liberal government of Premier Christy Clark.
In Ontario, on the heels of Bill 115 which destroyed bargaining rights for education workers, including 55,000 CUPE members, Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned in mid-October and prorogued the Ontario legislature. Draft legislation affecting the broader public sector, which will remove bargaining rights, while not yet law, hangs over all bargaining tables. Among others, the draft legislation will affect the arbitration system for thousands of Ontario health care workers who do not have the right to strike.
Budgetary restraint and austerity are the orders of the day throughout Canada as governments pay down the deficits incurred through stimulus programs that emerged in response to the 2008 global recession. Throughout the globe, we see a variety of governments scaling back public services and attacking public employees. Austerity is proving to be the wrong medicine and is compromising an already sluggish global economy. On November 14, millions of workers participated in a general strike in a number of European Union countries.
At the federal level, the Harper government continues to pursue free trade agreements throughout the globe. The latest example is the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China. The Harper government has refused to bring this agreement to Parliament. It apparently gives Chapter 11 type powers to the Chinese for a period of 31 years. At last count, over 75,000 had registered their opposition to this deal online.
Free trade talks continue with the European Union and are set to begin with India.
These issues make our global justice work all the more important. During this reporting period, and detailed within this report, I was privileged to be part of the Canadian Labour Congress’ (CLC) mission to China as guests of the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). I also led CUPE’s delegation to the World Congress of our global union, Public Services International (PSI), in Durban, South Africa.
Day in and day out, I see CUPE activists and staff standing up for public services and CUPE members. On behalf of our entire union, I thank each of you for your efforts – which make a difference.