Determined to turn around the Millennium Round of negotiations at the WTO, demonstrators have been marching, scaling walls to hang banners, and staging acts of defiance.
The object of this activism? To draw attention to the gathering of governments and corporations intent on negotiating a new round of trade agreements that threaten health care, education and social programs in Canada and jobs, workers rights and the environment around the world.
In a series of teach-ins and more formal gatherings, representatives from CUPE and other unions around the world have come together to analyse the threat of increased globalization and to develop collective strategies to protect workers interests.
And in the streets, people, puppets and passive resistance have served to underline the degree of public opposition to the direction the WTO has charted. Police and military have tried to quell the crowds with tear gas, while the official delegations meet behind a heavy wall of security.
The meetings in Seattle represent the start of negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and several other agreements affecting agriculture, government procurement and intellectual property. CUPE is concerned WTO regulations could give foreign corporations the right to set up for-profit hospitals and universities in Canada and force the government to fund them on the same basis as public institutions. Other changes would undercut Canadian jobs and threaten a wide range of public services.
To protest Canadas position at the WTO, you can fax your MP at www.cupe.ca.