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This Labour Day, as every year, we celebrate the tremendous contribution of those who work on the front lines and behind the scenes, providing care, delivering services and building strong communities.

And we remember the great gains we have made as workers because we have organized ourselves in unions to defend our rights and improve our wages and working conditions.

In addition to activities in communities across the country, CUPE is playing a lead role this year in the World Congress of Public Services International (PSI), which opens in Ottawa on Labour Day.

PSI represents more than 20 million public service workers in more than 140 countries and it’s meeting in Canada for the first time to launch a global campaign for quality public services.

They couldn’t have chosen a better time to talk about the tremendous difference that public services make in our daily lives – and in building a stronger, more healthy future for the planet.

In this past year the horror of September 11 reminded us that in times of crisis and every day, public services play a vital role to our social, environmental and personal security. It’s a role that desperately needs to be renewed and supported.

We’ve also seen the collapse of Enron and other corporations, providing clear evidence that we can’t look to the market to meet human needs in the public interest.

Every new example of corporate corruption further strengthens the case against abandoning public services to self-serving corporate greed.

After more than a decade of cutbacks and privatization, we can all see how disastrous these policies have been. But the impact has been greatest on women, workers of colour, Aboriginal communities, the disabled and others who lack power.

CUPE is leading the fight against the effects of right-wing economic policies and dangerous trade deals. We’re also fighting to renew, rebuild and reinvigorate public services.

Our members know quality services that meet community needs must be accessible, accountable, and democratic. They must have reliable funding from governments that are committed to public services for the long haul – not just as a quick political fix or personal legacy.

We are proud as leaders of Canada’s largest union to reaffirm our commitment to aggressively and positively advocate for improved services – and respect for workers’ rights. And as the PSI World Congress meets in Ottawa, we are all the more committed to support this global struggle by being active in communities across Canada.

Judy Darcy, National President
Claude Gnreux, National Secretary-Treasurer