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CUPE needs to shift the balance of power over our health and safety away from employers and back to workers, where it belongs. We need to reclaim joint committees as worker forums to confront employer power. We need to say, Enough! to using joint committees to co-opt union representatives, to threaten solidarity, and to weaken our union.

Our members must have the final say over whether or not their workplace is fit for work, and exercise their right to refuse unsafe work if its not. We must start acting on all health and safety hazards as if they are life and death situations, because the reality is that our members health and their lives are on the line. To do this, we need to embark on a major campaign that mobilizes CUPE members to act on our existing workplace rights. But above all, we need a program and a strategy to help workers regain control of the health and safety agenda.

This means making sure employers and governments live up to their responsibility to provide healthy and safe workplaces. And it means confronting employer power over health and safety in many other places: in the workplace, at the bargaining table, and on the streets. Without such action and militant defence of our right to healthy and safe working conditions, the toll of injuries and deaths will continue to climb.