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(Halifax) A municipal waste worker from Colombia will tour water and waste treatment plants in HRM on Monday as part of a 6-week Canadian tour. The young Colombian trade unionist, who has been under threat from death squads in her country, has been brought here by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada’s largest public sector union.

Maria Fernanda Bolanos will visit the Mill Cove wastewater treatment plant and the JD Kline water treatment plant Monday morning, followed by a tour of the Halifax Public Gardens at
2 pm.

The 34-year-old single mother faced danger in Colombia because of activism with her union, Sintramsirva, which represents about 450 waste management workers in Cali. Bolanos, who works as a weigh-scale attendant, is the only female employee in her unit of 38 workers.

Her union’s fight against the privatization of municipal services has meant severe repression. Long-time union activist, Carlos Alberto Chicaiza, was killed in 2004. Others, like Bolanos, regularly receive death threats.

“We always have to confront difficulties in order to realize our ideas and commitments,” Bolanos has said. “If we fall, we need to pick ourselves up with increased will and our heads held up high.”

Bolanos, who does not speak English, will be accompanied by a translator, as well as members of CUPE, including Danny Cavanagh, President of CUPE Nova Scotia and representatives from CUPE Locals 108 and 227.

While in Canada, she will visit five provinces to learn about waste management systems run by CUPE members and to discuss the privatization of municipal services.

Itinerary:  Monday, 9:00 am:  Mill Cove Wastewater Treatment Plant, 210 Waterfront Drive, Bedford
Monday, 10:00 am:  JD Kline Water Treatment Plant, Pockwock Road, Hammonds Plains
  Monday, 2:00 pm:  Halifax Public Gardens (main gate)

Members of the media are invited to take photos outside of the Mill Cove plant either at the start of the tour (9 am) or the end (10:30 am), or at the Public Gardens.  Unfortunately, HRM has declared that media are not permitted to accompany the tour into either treatment plant.

For more info and to confirm media attendance at any of these events, please contact:

Danny Cavanagh, President CUPE Nova Scotia, 902-957-0822