Four representatives of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and one from the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) are in Haiti to launch the construction of a new office for a sister union federation in Haiti. The group is accompanied by Denis Malo from Courbec, a firm specializing in property development and management.

The former headquarters of the Confederation of Private and Public Sector Workers(CTSP), a federation of 12 public and private sector unions in Haiti, was destroyed in the January 12, 2010 earthquake that shook the country. The CTSP has had to operate out of a tent since then.

The construction of the new offices is being funded by CUPE and the PSAC, as well as other Canadian unions including Services Employees International Union (SEIU), the Syndicat de la fonction publique du Québec (SFPQ) and the Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS).  

“We are here to launch the construction of a new union building”, affirms Claude Généreux, CUPE national secretary-treasurer. We were even able to witness the first steps needed to clear the plot of land on which the new offices will be built.” The delegation also met with the Haitian engineer involved in the reconstruction project. “As well, speaking with others on the ground, we quickly realized that having a vehicle was an essential tool not just for the construction project, but also for the longer-term union activities of the CTSP. The estimated costs of the construction project are approximately $100,000.”

“Our delegation went further, and offered financial and bookkeeping training to 15 local union leaders. While international aid does not always have the desired impact, our inter-union collaboration represents our concrete contribution towards the reconstruction of union infrastructure and the longer-term capacity-building of unions and civil society in Haiti”, said Généreux.

Sarah Bélanger from PSAC described her participation in this initiative as a privilege. “The union members here in Haiti, together with a Haitian engineer, identified their needs. That’s critical for us. We are here to support them.”

Dukens Raphaël, President of the CTSP, is thankful for the contributions of CUPE, PSAC and other Canadian unions. “It’s with great satisfaction and solidarity that we accept this contribution. We are extremely pleased to move forward to the concrete “doing” phase of this project”, states Raphaël. The CTSP counts 6,000 members from 12 different unions.

The representatives of CUPE and PSAC were still in Haiti for the second round of presidential elections held on Sunday, March 20.