HIV/AIDS a pandemic in Africa
So extensive is this crisis, said Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS, that recent famines have resulted from the deaths of thousands of farmers and farm workers who have died from AIDS.
In his message to CUPE delegates Lewis told of addressing one crowd of several hundred people in which countless orphaned children were being nursed by grandmothers because the middle aged have been wiped out by this crisis.
The virus targets women, Lewis explained. In a group of 10 million infected people, aged between 15 and 45, 67 per cent are women and girls.
He had praise for Canadas recent decision to allow the export of generic AIDS drugs to Africa, describing it as a spasm of rationality. These drugs are three to five times cheaper than brand name drugs used by people living with the virus.
CUPE members and locals pledged to raise $500,000 towards the recently established Stephen Lewis Foundation aimed at defeating this African pandemic.
Solidarity Levy for two more years
Delegates voted overwhelmingly to extend the Solidarity Levy for two more years.
The extension comes after unprecedented demands were put on the National Strike Fund following two years of high-level strike activity across the country.
CUPE Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux explained that the national union has spent $34 million on strike pay and benefits over the last two years.
Speaking in support of the Levy, CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan said, We cannot fight these right wing governments across the country with fresh air. Lets show [members] what CUPE means to this nation.
CUPE delegates kick off strategic dialogue
The first in a three-part discussion focusing on CUPEs strategic directions for the next two years began in earnest yesterday. The first debate was on collective bargaining, with delegates offering a number of ideas to strengthen our clout at the bargaining table.
Members talked about the importance of collective strength and greater solidarity. They also underlined the need to back up our bargaining with political action.
Doug Kingston, from CUPE 833 in New Brunswick, captured the mood of many delegates when he spoke about the strength his members feel knowing that if the government were to take away their bargaining rights, it would face a province-wide strike of 20,000 workers.
He had this message for the Lord government: Were done taking the stripping away. We want fair collective bargaining. We want to reach a deal at the table thats fair and just for all members. And you will negotiate, you will not legislate.
Report on election spending passed Special resolution referred
The much-discussed special NEB task force on election spending presented its report, setting out rules to govern campaigns for national office. While the report was handily passed, a constitutional amendment limiting staff involvement in election campaigns was referred.
Reminiscent of the chant many non-Quebeckers first heard at protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, CUPE delegates chanted their promise of solidarity at a demonstration in front of Quebecs National Assembly.
The boisterous crowd sent a loud and clear message to the government of Jean Charest: hands off our collective agreements, hands off $5 a day child care, learn from the experience of other provinces and strengthen dont privatize public services.
Equality Rights in 2003 a dynamic forum animated by Judy Rebick that will look at how we define and defend our rights. Room 2000C