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Hundreds of activists from across the country are gathered in Montreal for the 9th National Health and Safety conference. And for the first time in CUPEs history half of the delegates are women.

Opening the conference, keynote speaker National President Paul Moist saluted the important role that health and safety activists play within CUPE.

Theres no more natural function in our union than defending and enhancing our members health and safety rights in the workplace, Moist told delegates.

Speaking about the world-wide recognition CUPE activists have achieved with April 28, now in its 20th year, Moist called the Day of Mourning one of the biggest mass participation events anywhere on the planet.

National Health and Safety committee member from Quebec, Roland Alix, gave a moving tribute to three CUPE brothers from Quebec who, within a four-month period earlier this year, all suffered violent deaths on the job.

CUPE Quebec President Mario Gervais said it was a sad fact that more people die at work each year than die in wars and armed conflicts around the world.

Closing his talk, Moist reinforced the need for action and urged activists not to wait and let employers control the agenda because it is properly ours.

Whenever we think of giving up, we should remember the fatalities banner and what each name represents, he said. The best tribute is to turn our grief and sorrow, our solidarity into a determination to keep on fighting, to step up and take action, to ensure that our employers make every workplace healthy and safe for all our members.