There is no question that those pushing contracting out and privatization are getting more aggressive and more determined to turn all public services into a source of profit. There is no question that the services that CUPE members provide to the public particularly support services such as cleaning, maintenance, sanitation, food services, laundry, clerical work are being targeted. Yet, there is also no question that our own aggressive campaigning over the last decade to stop the plunder has set back the privatizers in significant ways.
In the last few years, we have had major victories. We stopped the privatization of the Seymour water filtration plant in Vancouver; we stopped the sell-off of Ontario Hydro; and the deal to privatize the new sewage treatment plants in Halifax collapsed after years of campaigning. We have also had countless victories at the local level in communities from coast to coast.
Privatization has failed miserably time and time again in Canada and in other countries. In the last few years Canadians have lived through some major crises including the great ice storm in Eastern Canada, the fierce forest fires in Western Canada this past summer, the SARS crisis centred in Toronto, and the recent power outage that blacked out all of Ontario. These public crises have reminded Canadians of the value of strong, reliable public services. These crises have also demonstrated the important and excellent work done by public service workers. Public ownership and control of public services has emerged as a major issue in elections across the country in recent months. An increasing number of experts are speaking out and warning against the dangers of privatization. All of this has created new opportunities for CUPE and our allies to defeat privatization. We must take full advantage of these opportunities in our campaigns over the next two years.
Two-year strategic plan
CUPE will actively encourage and assist local unions/provincial divisions/sectors/district councils to organize against every specific privatization or contracting out initiative in CUPEs jurisdiction. This will include providing funding for strategic anti-privatization campaigns through the National Defence Fund in accordance with the regulations governing the Fund.
CUPE will coordinate nationally all local/provincial/sectoral/district council campaigns against privatization and contracting out to ensure that strategic battles are given staff support and national visibility, and to ensure that the materials used in any one campaign, along with the lessons learned, are shared throughout the union.
CUPE will fight for successor representation rights whenever our members jobs are contracted out or whenever a service is privatized. If successor rights cannot be secured, we will organize the contract workers and/or privatized service and engage in effective campaigns to win the strongest possible collective agreement rights for these workers. In line with this, CUPE will continue to develop our capacity to represent workers in the privatized public service sector.
CUPE will continue to organize support in the broader labour movement for a labour movement-wide strategy to stop privatization that will include supporting our efforts to continue to represent members after services have been contracted out or privatized. We will call on the CLC to carry out an active campaign against public-private partnerships in accordance with CLC convention decisions.
CUPE will carry out a focused and strategic initiative aimed at stopping pension fund investment in public sector privatization schemes.
CUPE will defend our members jobs from privatization and contracting out by negotiating improved job security provisions. CUPE will resist any and all attempts by employers and governments to take away or undermine our job protection by taking all forms of action up to and including a general strike regionally, provincially or nationally if that is what is required.
CUPE will continue to carry out extensive internal union education about privatization and contracting out. This will include ensuring that the CUPE Ways of Winning course is offered regularly in every region as part of our week-long union schools.
CUPE will mobilize effective opposition to free trade agreements that strengthen the rights of corporations to take over public services in Canada and that risk making privatization irreversible. CUPE will work in coalitions with other organizations to educate our members and other Canadian citizens about the dangers of such free trade agreements, and to build effective community-based activist networks. CUPE will take action against free trade agreements as we do against attacks on our collective agreements.
CUPE will strengthen our links to unions around the world to help stop privatization globally. All chartered organizations of CUPE will be actively encouraged to contribute financially to CUPEs Global Justice Fund (formerly called the Union Aid Fund) so that we can continue to sponsor international solidarity projects that help build a global peoples movement against privatization of public services.
CUPE will identify specific areas of work or key parts of the public sector operations and services that are being privatized, or that are already predominantly private, and that should be back in the public sector. Examples of such operations and services include information technology services, food and cleaning services in public institutions, long-term health care, and waste management services. We will develop long-term strategic action plans to bring these services back under public ownership, management and control.