Table of Contents
1 Introduction 2
Canadian international aid
Trade and investment
Global solidarity and human rights
Trade union rights
12 HIV/AIDS 14
Solidarity letters and actions
Global Justice Fund project updates
Thinking globally, acting locally
Public Service International
Engagement and participation
CUPE’s International Solidarity Report 2012-2013 is published by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, 1375 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, Ontario K1G 0Z7 © CUPE 2013. This report is available at CUPE.ca Union printed using vegetable-oil based inks on recycled paper processed chlorine-free and containing 100% post-consumer waste, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Contributing Authors: Annick Desjardins, Sharlene Patterson, Beth Smillie, Carol Wood, Sue Roth, Kelti Cameron Map Research: Nicole Chénier, Isabelle Gendron Managing Editor: Mario Émond Editorial Assistants: Hélène Bélanger, Valérie Ménard, Stéphanie Bibeau Design: Jocelyn Renaud Cover photo: Josh Berson Back cover photo: Josh Berson Photo credits: Josh Berson, Farid P. Chaharlangi, Thomas Achilles ISSN #1920-1443 Electronic copy of the International Solidarity Report available at cupe.ca/global-justice/international-solidarity-report-2013
ver the past year the gathering storms of free trade, austerity measures and anti-union legislation have collided with great force against workers and communities all over the world. It was a year of hardship for many.
with unions across Canada and around the world, stepped up their efforts, offering support, solutions and solidarity to those most affected by the forces mounting against them.
Protests accelerated in Europe, India and Cyprus, students marched in Chile and Quebec, teachers rallied in Chicago, the Idle No More Movement spread across Canada, the Global Days of Action pushed ahead in Mexico and much more.
From Burma to Nicaragua to the Philippines and many countries in between, CUPE was present. We supported human rights defenders in Burma; helped those fighting for the legal rights of female workers in Nicaragua’s notorious maquilas; backed-up a successful union sign-up project for teachers in the Philippines.
As the struggle intensified so did solidarity in response. CUPE members, working in close collaboration
Members also travelled to Colombia, locking arms with a partner union as it fought against the privatization of
the country’s water resources and with a human rights organization as it exposed trade and human rights violations. In Mexico, CUPE joined other Canadian unions, to stand sideby-side with communities harmed by the corrosive activities of Canada’s extractive companies. A CUPE delegation, led by National President Paul Moist and National SecretaryTreasurer Charles Fleury, made an impact at the Public Service International’s 29th World Congress in South Africa, strengthening our ties with public sector unions from around the world.
There will never be a shortage of projects to work on, causes to support and workers to defend. Our Global Justice Fund helps connect and mobilize workers around our common struggles in Canada and across the globe. We supported many projects and causes in the past year with the help of this fund, a fund generously supported by CUPE members. Though the past year has been a challenging one, with grave losses in human, social and environmental terms, CUPE maintains its commitment to standing by our brothers and sisters as the negative forces rise against them, against us all. We will be there in solidarity.
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Canadian international aid: undermining genuine development
Photos by Josh Berson
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Community leader in cali, colombia
CUPE represents members in several NGOs in the international development sector in Canada and knows firsthand the commitment of these organizations to support poverty alleviation, human rights and equality in the global south. We have witnessed over the past few years how funding cuts to Canada’s foreign aid programs have limited and undermined their ability to support economic and social justice in poorer countries. Development aid has the potential to mitigate the worst impact of our global economic system and to support communities to take action to alleviate the poverty they experience. The Conservative government vision for development aid, however,
undermines this potential by signalling international aid should support the economic interests of our corporate sector. Bold moves that signalled changes in the role of the Canadian government and foreign aid began with huge funding cuts in 2012 to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Later that same year, a report was tabled on the role of the private sector in achieving Canada’s international development mandate, and in the 2013 federal budget it was announced that CIDA will be merged within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). These changes, coupled with the shift away from peacekeeping toward more military interventions
and our inaction on the environment, have given rise to global condem nation. Our government continues to promote Canadian extractive industries (oil, gas, mining) in countries with serious human and labour rights violations. In 2011, for example, we signed a free trade agreement with Colombia despite the growing evidence of violations against workers and communities throughout the country. Canada’s foreign aid is now unquestionably promoting the economic trade interests of Canada and geared toward a business model that does not take into account the need for decent work, environmental protection and the importance of human rights. Establishing a foreign policy that promotes fair trade relations,
self-determination and a more equitable distribution of a country’s resources, including agricultural and industrial capacity, is what is needed for genuine and sustainable development, job creation and poverty alleviation. CUPE supports the work of coalitions such as the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) and Common Frontiers, and is active with many NGOs and the international solidarity community to challenge the regressive, harmful policies of the Conservative government. It is critical for union members to support these efforts to promote a progressive international development agenda.
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Trade and Investment: Peoples’ Rights not Corporate Rights
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Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) Negotiations between Canada and the EU on CETA are now in the final stages. At stake is our ability to develop policy and to enact regulations that require local purchasing while protecting workers, the environment and the public sector, including public health. If an investor-state dispute mechanism is included then a parallel legal system for multinational corporations and private investors will be created that will easily enable them to challenge government policies whenever their profits are threatened.
Moving in this direction will seriously compromise our democratic decision-making power. Australia, India, South Korea, South Africa, and Brazil have all reviewed their policies on the investor-state dispute mechanism, and several have refused to ratify any agreement that includes this type of provision.
Cities who prefer to purchase Canadian goods, or put minimum Canadian content quotas on big infrastructure projects, including local labour, may be prevented from doing so if CETA is signed. Over 40 municipalities â€“ including Toronto and Victoria â€“ have requested to be excluded from CETA.
The EU is also asking Canada to change its pharmaceutical patent regime to extend protections to brand name drug companies at the expense of generic competition. Delaying generic drugs by even a year or two will have huge financial consequences for our public health care system and Canadians in need of affordable prescription drugs.
CUPE was part of a delegation to Europe in November, speaking with decision-makers about the CETA negotiations. We continue to challenge this unjust trade agreement at the national, regional and local levels, with our allies from the Trade Justice Network (TJN).
Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Canada recently joined a free trade negotiation process called the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP talks have been taking place for over two years and includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Together they represent nearly 658 million people with a combined GDP of $20.7 trillion US. As with CETA, however, this agreement includes increased protections for big drug companies that limit access to life-saving generic medicines, and to an investor-state provision that would allow companies to sue governments over rules that
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Sister Barbara Wood (Codevelopment Canada) and brother jose juarez (cupe 859) addressing a sintracuavalle forum in colombia
protect the environment and other sensitive areas of our economy. There is speculation that the TPP will also include a financial services chapter that would limit the government’s ability to regulate banks, insurance companies and hedge funds. CUPE, as an active member of Common Frontiers (CF), a multisectoral working group that organizes research, educational campaigns and political action on issues related to economic, social and climate justice in the Americas, is challenging the TPP agreement on the grounds that it poses a direct threat to the Canadian economy and the environment. The TPP will grant enormous power to corporations and will undermine our democracy.
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CUPE is collaborating with networks throughout the Americas while also working here in Canada with a broad range of faith groups, trade unions, environmental groups, international development organizations, and student and human rights groups.
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) Despite the fact that Colombia was regarded as one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a trade unionist, the Canadian government signed a Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) in 2011. At the time, an estimated five million Colombians, many of them women and children, had been forcibly displaced from their land through cor-
porate land seizures. The Canadian Parliamentary Standing Committee for International Trade recommended that we not enter into the agreement. CUPE opposed the CCFTA from the beginning and worked tirelessly alongside a broad alliance that included the Canadian Labour Congress, several Canadian international development organizations and Colombia’s civil society to expose the harm the agreement would cause. Our persistent lobbying efforts led to the inclusion of the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) provision in the CCFTA and now requires the Canadian government to present a human rights impact assessment to the Canadian Parliament in May of each year. The first report the
government tabled in May 2012 completely failed to address the human rights situation in Colombia and CUPE is working with our partners and allies to continue to monitor the Canadian government’s commitment to the HRIA, to ensure that a full and accurate accounting of the human rights impact of the free trade agreement is reported to Parliament in 2013.
GLOBAL SOLIDARITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Third from the left: Sharlene Patterson (CUPE 410) participating in the mining solidarity tour in Mexico in february 2013
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Community leaders with nomadesc in cali, colombia
Mexico: Global Days of Action With support from several global union federations, unions in Mexico called for Global Days of Action in February 2013. Trade unions from around the world participated and joined in solidarity to express their concerns over Mexico’s ongoing and flagrant violations of international labour rights and standards. CUPE is an active member of the Tri-National Solidarity Alliance (TNSA), a network of unions in Canada, US and Mexico that share a vision of international union struggle. We engage in solidarity work around the demand for freedom of association, and struggle in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the trade union movement in Mexico.
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CUPE and several other Canadian unions, led by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), met with Mexican Embassy officials in Ottawa and called on the Mexican government to: • Provide justice for the families of the 65 miners killed at Pasta de Conchos in February 2006; • Adhere to international labour standards and International Labour Organization recommendations; • End the use of employerdominated protection contracts (fake collective agreements with corrupt unions); • End the persecution of independent democratic unions and union leaders and activists, and free jailed union activists; • Repeal the regressive, antiworker labour laws enacted in December 2012;
• Reinstate unlawfully fired union activists; • Allow free and fair union elections. Mexican workers continue to courageously demand justice. CUPE and its allies in the labour movement continue to support them in this struggle. Delegation to Mexico: communities speak out against Canadian mining companies A nine-member delegation from several Canadian unions and an inter-faith group travelled to Mexico this past February to study the impact of Canadian mining activities on local communities. The delegation was led by the United Steelworkers (USW) and included delegates from CUPE, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP), and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.
Delegates were hosted in Mexico City by REMA (Mexican Network of Communities Affected by Mining), ProDESC (Project for Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights), and the national leadership of Los Mineros (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Mineros, Metalúrgicos, Siderúrgicos y Similares de la República Mexicana). Together these organizations expres sed concerns about the Mexican government’s promotion of Canadian mining and resource extraction corporate interests at the expense of the livelihood and rights of communities in Mexico. The delegation travelled to the states of Durango and Oaxaca where they met with communities impacted by the mining activities of the Canadian corporations Excellon Resources and
Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. respectively. They listened to community members tell stories of injustice, human and labour rights violations, environmental destruction, community tensions, and disregard for their local decision-making authority.
to hold Canadian companies accountable for their destructive activities at home and abroad. We must seriously question our pension investments and continue to act in solidarity with our sisters and brothers struggling for justice.
In the community of Calpulalpam de Méndez, in the state of Oaxaca, delegation members drew inspiration from the community’s successful attempts at halting the mining activities of the Canadian company Continuum Resources. Community members spoke passionately about their community’s potential, and were clear that they must be included in any future development activities.
This delegation also participated in the Global Days of Action while in Mexico and joined the SME (the Mexico Electrical Workers Union) to protest against the growing antiunion measures. Two years ago, the government fired 44,000 SME members after it privatized the electricity utility.
It is more important than ever to work with other unions and civil society groups to pressure our government
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TRADE UNION RIGHTS members of the colombia postal workers union (stpc) welcoming the front lines delegation to colombia
Front Lines Tour to Colombia Worker-to-worker solidarity exchanges are an important way to strengthen and develop solidarity between workers in the global north and south. Exchanges help strengthen our base of union activists prepared to fight against privatization and push for quality public services and our right to collectively organize. CUPE participated in a 10 day solidarity tour, dubbed the Front Lines Tour, to Colombia in March 2013. This Front Lines Initiative is a joint project of four national public sector unions – the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), and CUPE, in collaboration with CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev).
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This initiative began in 2004 with the primary purpose to join forces with our sister unions in Colombia to fight against privatization of public services with a view to exchange strategies, and to strengthen and defend human and labour rights. Throughout the tour in Colombia the delegation met and shared experiences with organizations on the front lines of the social and labour movements in the country, in the public and private sectors, including our Colombian partners NOMADESC, the Association for Social Research and Action, and SINTRACUAVALLE, a water sector union. Amnesty International has reported that at least 40 human rights defen ders and community leaders were killed in 2012, along with 20 trade union members. Indigenous communities have had at least Photos by Josh Berson
Brother jose juarez (cupe 859) with members of the colombia lawyers’ collective jose alvear restrepo
CUPE Bargaining Conference
84 activists murdered, including 21 leaders, according to the National Indigenous Organization (ONIC) of Colombia. The current Santos government, elected in 2010, has made friendly overtures beyond its borders to other right-wing governments and the global corporate community. It makes promises of market access and economic opportunity, while portraying itself as a champion of human rights, despite the fact that human and labour rights violations continue with impunity.
Threats of privatization, union busting and violence continue in Colombia. Our partners voiced concern that their struggles will become invisible as the Santos government embarks on a public relations campaign to improve the image of Colombia in the eyes of the international community. CUPE will continue to support our sisters and brothers in Colombia.
CUPE’s first National Bargaining Conference in February 2013 was an overwhelming success with more than 1,000 members in attendance. Over the course of three days, members, staff, activists and leaders from across the country shared strategies and learned from each other about how best to tackle bargaining challenges in Canada today. The global character of our struggle was highlighted in presentations by several speakers, including Paul Booth from the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSME) in the United States and Richard Pond from the European Federation of Public Sector Unions (EPSU). Booth spoke about the attack on pensions in the US and their recent struggle against
anti-union legislation. Pond spoke about the European workers’ experience resisting budget cuts and job loss in the public sector, and the imposition of International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies on the people. Speakers Deena Ladd from Toronto’s Workers’ Action Centre and Joey Calugay from Montreal’s Immigrant Workers Center (IWC) spoke about the increasing exploitation of temporary foreign workers in Canada. There was widespread recognition that the same economic and political factors that lead to the exploitation of migrant workers are responsible for the struggles we face at the bargaining table, for the privatization of our public services and the restrictive austerity measures we experience in Canada and around the world.
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According to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), close to 90 per cent of 34 million people living today with HIV are workers engaged in economically productive activity that sustains them and, by extension, their families and communities. For many, however, a positive HIV test result produces devastating consequences such as discrimination, hiring rejections and even outright job loss.
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CUPE participated in the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, in July 2012. Titled “Turning the Tide Together,” the conference brought together workers on the basis that action on HIV/AIDS needs to take place in the workplace. Issues raised by trade unions included the need to eliminate employment-related discrimination, new infections and AIDS-related deaths.
The conference was an opportunity for CUPE to voice its opposition to the unjust free trade and investment agreements that threaten access to generic pharmaceuticals and put forward the need to strengthen the public sector and social protections that are being eroded through austerity and privatization programs. Alternatives proposed included increased corporate taxation and the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).
Our connection to others working on this issue is critical for a coordinated response. CUPE continues to work with unions and civil society organizations worldwide in the campaign for universal access to treatment, prevention and support. CUPE’s second national strategic meeting on HIV/AIDS was held in October 2012 where ITUC Africa HIV/AIDS coordinator, Yahya Msangi, participated and provided a valuable perspective in the fight against HIV/AIDS globally.
from left to right: cupe members gerry Lavallée (cupe national pink triangle committee), Sheryl Burns (CUPE National women’s committee) and Zully Trujillo ( CUPE NATIONAL Rainbow committee) participating in a financial transaction tax rally at the 19 th international aids conference in washington, D.C., in July 2012
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Solidarity letters and actions, 2012-2013
6. 16. 17.
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1. Burma: Project: Building the Capacity of Human Rights Defenders from Burma, Phase IV 2. central america: Project: Empowering Women Maquila Workers – Strengthening the Central American Network – Central American Women’s Network in Solidarity with Maquila Workers – HEU 3. China: CUPE participation in CLC delegation to China 4. Colombia: Letter to Dr. Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia re: 51 workers fired at EMCALI Letter of condolence re: Daniel Aguirre Piedrahita, the General Secretary of SINALCORTEROS, Colombia’s National Union of Sugar Cane Cutters Project: Defending Human Rights with Colombian Local Communities and Trade Unionists – NOMADESC – Cali, Colombia – CUPE BC Project: Community Support Against Privatization of Water – SINTRACUAVALLE – CUPE NS CUPE participation in the Colombia Front Lines Tour
Project: Strengthening Solidarity between Cuban Public Sector Union and CUPE – The National Union of Public Administration Workers (SNTAP) – CUPE BC 6. germany: Message of solidarity to Independent Flight Attendants Organization (UFO) re: Strike for secure employment and decent working conditions with Lufthansa 7. Haiti: Letter to Michel Martelly, President of the Republic of Haïti re: Wave of systemic anti-union activities in the country— layoffs, unjust dismissals Letter of congratulations to Mr. Jean Bonald Fatal, new Secretary General, Confederation of Private and Public Sector Works (CTSP) 8. Honduras: Project: Empowering Women Maquila Workers in Occupational Health & Safety – Honduran Women’s Collective (CODEMUH) – HEU 9. Iran: Letter to leader of Iran re: Reza Shahabi – Demand for his immediate release and prompt medical treatment
Letter to President-elect Park Guenhye re: Recognize the KGEU and reinstate dismissed employees 11. Mexico: Letters to Parliamentary Coordinators of the Mexican Congress and the Senate of Mexico re: Regressive labour law reform proposal CUPE participation in Global Days of Action CUPE participation in Mining Solidarity Tour 12. Nicaragua: Project: Empowering Women Maquila Workers – Capacity Building and Training for the MEC Mediation Centre – CUPE BC 13. Paraguay: Letter to Stephen Harper re: Return to democratic rule in Paraguay 14. Philippines: Message of Solidarity to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) re: 30th anniversary & 13th National Congress. Letter to Hon. Leila M. De Lima re: Arrest of COURAGE Staff on December 3, 2012
Project: Phase III – IV – Defend Human Rights in the Philippines: A worker-to-worker solidarity project – Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) 15. south africa: Message of Solidarity to SAMWU re: 10th National Congress Project: Organizing and Servicing Marginalized Women Workers – SAMWU CUPE participation at PSI World Congress 16. Switzerland: CUPE participation at International Labour Organization (ILO) – Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Forced Labour – Geneva 17. United States: CUPE participation at 19th International AIDS Conference — Washington, D.C. CUPE participation at Cornell University – Advisory Group of the Energy Democracy Initiative – New York Project: Aids-Free World: Advocating for more urgent and effective global responses to HIV and AIDS
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Global Justice Fund project updates
Sister Barbara Wood (CoDevelopment Canada + CUPE 1004) attending a rally at the Municipal hospital of Medellin, colombia
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Burma human rights defender networking meeting facilitated by vso in thailand in 2013
Philippines The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) – Philippines celebrated their 30th anniversary in September 2012. Coinciding with their National Congress, the celebration included a Tribute to Teachers and a mobilization to protest against President Aquino’s policies on education, widely criticized for being antiteacher and anti-people. ACT was successful with its 2012 Sign-up with ACT campaign to form unions among public school teachers. The ACT-NCR Union was officially registered and recognized as the sole bargaining unit in the National Capital Region (NCR), covering approximately 26,000 members.
Trade union activists organize and mobilize under dangerous conditions in the Philippines today. Attacks against organizers and leaders from CUPE partner organizations ACT and COURAGE continue with impunity under President Aquino’s rule. Six trade union activists have been killed since the current government came to power in 2010. In December 2012, 28 people were arbitrarily arrested on trumped-up criminal charges, including ACT national leaders Mae Fe Ancheta and Bing Dajao, and ACT organizer Reneboy Abiva. Long-time organizers of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, were also abducted and detained in that same month.
The timing of the COURAGE arrests is of particular concern because they came in the midst of the campaign and protests by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) workers, where both Vegas and Camposano were assigned as organizers. The MMDA workers, mostly street sweepers and traffic and street maintenance staff were demonstrating for their long overdue benefits. COURAGE has been relentless and uncompromising in advancing the rights and welfare of the employees and in the pursuit of justice for the victims, including a campaign calling for immediate and unconditional release of Vegas and Camposano who have been detained more than four months.
In 2010, CUPE members met with Carlo “Caloy” Rodriguez, the COURAGE Southern Tagalog Coordinator and President of the Calamba Water District (NLMWATER), who was later killed for his union activities and opposition to water privatization.
Burma The changes in Burma over the last two years have led to a transition away from a “military dictatorship” toward a more democratic system, including the release of political prisoners, a more open media and increased freedom of speech. The power in the Parliament is still, however, in the hands of the military and former generals.
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Now that Burma is considered to be on the “road to democracy,” international sanctions have been lifted and there has been a huge influx of foreign direct investments, especially in the extractive sectors (oil, gas, mining). Humanitarian and development organisations are also setting up operations inside the country. CUPE partner organizations, supported by VSO, an international development organization, now have opportunities for a whole new range of interventions as many can now operate to a certain extent inside Burma. Some partners have set up offices or have proxy organizations under which activities can take place while other larger, multi-ethnic orga nizations are considering formally establishing a presence inside the country. Most of the smaller, youth
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and community-based groups will not follow this direction and are intending to remain within their respective ethnic communities. The situation for civil society may be improving gradually in the larger urban areas, but in more rural, remote or ethnic areas these changes have yet to be felt. Small steps toward a more open and vocal civil society are possible but the human and trade union rights situation remains volatile. Important issues of focus for our partner organizations include the ongoing human and land rights violations, migration and refugee issues, and engagement in the political space and peace-building opportunities within local government.
For our partner organizations on the Thai-Burma border, the increased freedom to travel will give them the long-sought opportunity to directly engage and work with people deep inside the country.
Cuba CoDevelopment Canada is coordinating a shipment of office supplies and equipment to CUPE’s partners at the Havana local of the National Union of Public Administration Workers (SNTAP). The items, which include such diverse materials as printers, highlighters, staples, computers, paper, baseball equipment and tires, will supply the local’s training classrooms throughout the municipality and help the union run its operations with greater efficiency.
The shipment has been years in the making, and coordinating it required obtaining Cuban government permissions, securing a mini-storage space, and researching and purchasing the best value items. For the transportation, planned in May this year, CoDev has enlisted the help of the Vancouver Rotary Club, whose experience in shipping goods overseas has been invaluable.
Nicaragua – MEC Sandra Ramos, founder and director of the “Maria Elena Cuadra” Movement for Working and Unemployed Women (MEC) in Nicaragua, visited the CUPE national office in early 2012 to discuss her organization’s current work. Through the support MEC receives from CUPE,
Front lines delegation with nomadesc
CoDevelopment Canada and other groups, it is able to continue sup porting workers in the ‘maquilas’, or free trade manufacturing zones, in Nicaragua. MEC’s Workers Mobile Law Firm last year assisted over 2,000 indi viduals struggling with labour issues, family violence and child care support. These mobile legal clinics provide women working in maquila factories access to legal advice that would otherwise not be within their financial means. In addition, the lawyers accompany women to file complaints when needed, empowering them to defend their own rights against exploitation by employers, owners and the government. Many of the cases they took on were collective cases
of companies violating the rights of a whole group of workers. MEC plans to continue the work of their Mediation Centre, a centre that specializes in mediation, negotiation and alternative conflict resolution. The Centre is run by and for maquila workers, and is a continuation and expansion of the services offered by the Workers Mobile Law Firm. Its mediation and arbitration services, available since April 2006, were certified by the Nicaraguan Supreme Court. MEC’s Sixteenth National Forum for Maquila Workers will take place in March 2014. More than 1,200 women workers are expected to participate.
Colombia With at least 20 trade unionists assassinated in 2012, Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. CUPE’s partnership with the Colombian human rights organization NOMADESC – the Association for Social Research and Action – is building connections and solidarity with Colombian workers and helping to ensure their safety. It also provides us with first-hand information and evidence that exposes the ongoing human rights violations and the link to increased trade and foreign investment in the country.
NOMADESC continues to provide training and support for human rights advocates as they fight for the rights of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and trade unions in the southwestern region of Colombia. It helps communities by accompanying their members as they make their way through the legal system to defend their rights. Most essentially, its research into specific cases of human rights violations and its work with trade unions, individuals and communities provide the strength many vulnerable workers need in the struggle for their rights.
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Thinking globally, acting locally: Regional initiatives
CUPE Ontario’s International Solidarity Committee partici pated in a rally organized in solidarity with South African miners in Toronto in August 2012. Activists gathered outside the South African consulate to condemn the massacre of over 45 striking mineworkers at the Marikana Platinum Mine, near Rustenburg South Africa. On August 16, 2012, police opened fire on thousands of striking workers from this mine. They killed more than 45 workers, and wounded and arrested dozens more. The mine is owned by U.K.-based Lonmin Corporation, the world’s third largest platinum producer. The workers were striking for better working conditions and compensation.
Paul Moist, Margarita Lopez and Charles Fleury at the cupe Nova scotia convention in May 2013
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activists gathered outside the south african consulate in toronto in august 2012
CUPE Manitoba’s Global Justice Committee partnered with NGOs, community groups and individuals to mark World AIDS Day in 2012. This year’s theme Bridging the Gaps focused on ways to address the need for testing, services and resources. An evening event included a multi-media community presentation that showcased how HIV & AIDS issues are addressed in Manitoba and around the world. Many partners contributed to the event’s success: Nine Circles Community Health Centre, The CUPE Manitoba Global Justice Committee, Two-Spirited People of Manitoba, The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the 595 Prevention Team, Rainbow Resource Centre, Manitoba First Nations AIDs Working Group (MFNAWG), Focus Africa, Grands ‘n’
More, Sexual Education Resource Center (SERC) and Klinic. On International Human Rights Day, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and several national unions joined civil liberties’ groups to demand the Canadian government uphold its legal obligations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international laws, and “act immediately” to “Free the Three” and all the other security certificate detainees. Three men, Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohamed Harkat and Mohammad Mahjoub, have been detained and held under house arrest in Canada for more than 10 years under the government’s security certificates. They have never been charged with any crime.
A security certificate is a legal tool that allows the Canadian government to detain and deport permanent residents or foreign nationals who they consider to be a security threat using secret evidence that neither the accused nor their lawyer are allowed to see. At a Saskatoon event organized by CUPE, labour, refugee and peace advocates wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Harper, expressing their anger over the government’s treatment of immigrants. Margarita Lopez, President of SINTRACUAVALLE, a water workers’ union in Colombia, attended the CUPE Nova Scotia and CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador Division Conventions in May 2013. Sister Lopez was accompanied by Sister Barbara Wood, CoDevelopment
Canada’s Executive Director and CUPE 1004 member. CUPE Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Global Justice Committee have a project with SINTRACUAVALLE supporting a citizen education and organizing campaign to oppose the privatization of the water sector in Colombia. In a show of international support CUPE New Brunswick’s Global Justice Committee has initiated a letter writing campaign in support of Filipino political prisoner Charity Dino. Dino is a teacher and organizer who was teaching peasant farmers to read and write before her unjust detention in 2009. At the time of her arrest she was preparing for and inviting people to attend events for “Poor Peasants’ Week” in the region where she worked.
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Public Service International Public Service International (PSI) brings together more than 20 million workers, represented by 650 unions in 148 countries and territories. Every five years, PSI organizes an international congress that offers trade unionists the opportunity to gather and discuss global plans for addressing issues related to human rights, social justice and universal access to quality public services. CUPE sent a delegation to the PSI 29th World Congress in Durban, South Africa in November 2012. The four-member delegation included our National President Paul Moist, National SecretaryTreasurer Charles Fleury, and two National Executive Board members: Judy Henley from Saskatchewan and Ginette Paul from Quebec.
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CUPE is a proud and active member of PSI and used this congress as an important opportunity to network and engage with public sector unions from around the world. Moist has actively served on the PSI executive board for the past three years as the Canada and Quebec representative. There were many highlights for CUPE at the 29th Congress. It was honoured, along with PSAC, for leading the PSI initiative to re-build the Port-au-Prince offices of the Confederation of Public and Private Sector Workers (CTSP), our sister union in Haiti. The World Congress also adopted, at CUPE’s suggestion, a statement of solidarity and action for the workers killed in the horrific factory fire in Bangladesh that occurred earlier in the week.
As a massive attack on public services and public sector workers is being experienced all over the world the need for unity is ever more urgent. This need for solidarity among all public and private sector workers, including workers who do not have a union, was very clear from the stories of struggle shared by delegates to the congress. Under the new leadership of Rosa Pavanelli, from the Italian affiliate FP-CGIL, a new program of action called “In the Peoples’ Interest” will guide PSI for the next five years.
Canada-US affiliate meeting Following the PSI World Congress in South Africa, CUPE hosted a sub-regional meeting in February with PSI North American affiliates from Canada and the United States in the CUPE National office in Ottawa. Canada-US affiliates had the opportunity to discuss the outcome of the World Congress and to consider PSI’s new five year plan, “Working for the Alternative: Implementing PSI’s mandate in 2013 and beyond.” This meeting also served as a follow up to the first ever Canada-US affiliate meeting held in Washington in January 2012.
Engagement and participation SAMWU Congress in South Africa CUPE was one of several international guests attending the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) 10th National Congress in August 2012. Other guests included public sector unions from Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Germany and Italy. The South African labour movement is vibrant and SAMWU is gaining strength, despite significant challenges faced by workers across the country. The congress’ ambitious agenda included several high ranking political speakers from the government and trade union
movement, and a panel discussion under the theme “Solidarity Now More Than Ever! Workers of the World Unite!” International resolutions to be discussed and debated included solidarity with Palestine and Swaziland, strengthening PSI and international solidarity, campaigning for green jobs, and labour brokers and employment agencies in the public sector.
CLC leaders delegation to China The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) led a delegation of Canadian union leaders on a visit to China in October 2012. CUPE National
President Paul Moist participated in this delegation along with leaders from the CLC, United Steelworkers (USW), Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL) and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). Given the growing attention the Canadian government has given to its trading relationship with China since 2009, it is increasingly important for the Canadian labour movement to connect with Chinese unions. The ACFTU currently faces tremendous challenges in balancing the interests of members with its prominent role within the government apparatus.
Cornell University – Advisory Group of the Energy Democracy Initiative CUPE participated in a round table discussion on energy transition hosted by Cornell University in New York City in October 2012. National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury and National Research, Job Evaluation and Health and Safety Director Shelly Gordon joined union representatives from around the world to discuss, debate and develop solutions to the world’s pressing energy challenges, including climate change, land grabs and energy poverty, and the advancement of social and environmental justice.
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The meeting was convened in response to the growing awareness that free-market forces, structures and actors are not providing a sustainable energy framework for the planet or for the majority of the world’s people.
the ILO in Switzerland in February 2013. CUPE’s Equality Representative Annick Desjardins attended along with other experts nominated in consultation with governments, and employers’ and workers’ groups.
CUPE made an important contri bution during the meeting and was invited, along with other unions from around the world, by Cornell University to join an advisory group that would create a space for unions to debate, develop and promote real solutions to the climate crisis.
The purpose of the meeting was to formulate recommendations to the ILO’s Governing Body on the scope for possible standard setting to complement the ILO’s Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), and Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105).
International Labour Organization (ILO) A Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Forced Labour was organized by
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The discussions addressed regulatory and implementation gaps for the effective protection of victims as well as the prevention of forced labour, victim compensation, and human trafficking for labour exploitation. The experts recommended
that supplementary measures be adopted to address these gaps and considered different options for standard setting. The ILO Governing Body, at its March meeting, added this item to the agenda of the 2014 International Labour Conference.
CUPE calls UN’s attention to Harper government’s water policies CUPE was at the United Nations in Geneva, in April 2013, to draw international attention to the Harper Conservatives’ efforts to privatize Canada’s municipal water and wastewater systems, and the threat this poses to the accessibility of safe public water for all Canadians.
The Harper Conservative government’s human rights record was being reviewed by member states of the UN during Canada’s Universal Periodic Review. In the days leading up to the review, CUPE met with diplomats from various countries taking part to share concerns over the Harper Conservatives water policies. CUPE was also offering its support for Indigenous peoples working to build international pressure on Canada to address the crisis-level conditions of drinking water in First Nations communities.
Photos by Josh Berson
CUPE has a reputation for defen ding the rights of workers around the world. Over the past 25 years, CUPE’s solidarity with workers around the globe has been impressive, and critically important. We know this solidarity is our strength and is the way forward, leading to a strong movement capable of fighting back against an oppressive system, against privatization and austerity, and toward global justice. Our local conditions at home, in our workplace, and in our communities are informed and impacted by a global economic system and the conditions of workers everywhere. As we emerge from the recent global economic crisis, and face increasing repression and significant attacks on trade union rights in Canada, we have a deeper understanding of how our local conditions are impacted by this global system. Viewing the world
through the lens of the 99 per cent versus the one per cent has provided us with a deeper appreciation of our connection to workers, and the working class in this changing world. The impact of CUPE’s support on workers in the global south should not be underestimated, nor can their impact on us, as we draw inspiration and lessons from the diverse experiences of struggle around the world. CUPE will continue to learn from, and support, our sisters and brothers globally through our affiliation with Public Service International (PSI), and by continuing to build workerto-worker solidarity projects through our Global Justice Fund.
To stay connected to CUPE’s international work you can subscribe to the Global Justice newsletter at cupe. ca/globaljustice. Check cupe.ca regularly to read web postings on a host of international issues or follow us on twitter: @CUPESolidarity.
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Global Justice Donors: April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013
CUPE National CUPE Ontario Division, Markham, Ontario CUPE Saskatchewan Division, Regina, Saskatchewan CUPE Members & Staff CUPE 38 – City of Calgary Employees, Inside Workers, Calgary, Alberta CUPE 410 – Greater Victoria Public Library Employees, Victoria, BC CUPE 600 – Saskatchewan Provincial Hospitals & Training Schools Employees, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
CUPE 600-03 – Valley View Center – Saskatchewan Public Services Commission, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan CUPE 650 – Board of Education of the Regina School Division No. 4 – (Caretakers / Maintenance Workers), Regina, Saskatchewan CUPE 687 – Télé-Métropole Inc., Montréal, Québec CUPE 966 – Peel Manor Home for the Aged of the Regional Municipality of Peel, Brampton, Ontario CUPE 974 – Saskatoon Community Clinic Employees, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
CUPE 1063 – Compensation Employees of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba CUPE 1174 – Town of Summerside Police and Fire Departments, Summerside, Prince Edward Island CUPE 1281 – Ryerson Polytechnic Students, Toronto, Ontario CUPE 1860 – Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation Employees, St. John’s, Newfoundland CUPE 1876 – Northside Community Guest Home, North Sydney, Nova Scotia CUPE 2440 – CUSO-International, Ottawa, Ontario
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CUPE 3008 – Resi-Care Cape Breton Association Employees, Sydney, Nova Scotia CUPE 3008-01– Cape Breton Transition House (Counsellors), Sydney, Nova Scotia CUPE 3260 – Educational Assistants and Youth Service Workers of PEI, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island CUPE 3067 – New Dawn Guest Home Employees, Sydney, Nova Scotia
CUPE 4379 – Employé(e)s du Conseil Inter-municipal de transport du sud-ouest (CITSO), Châteauguay, Québec CUPE 5111 – Prairie North Regional Health Authority, North Battleford, Saskatchewan CUPE 8443 – Employees of the Board of Education of the Saskatoon School Division No. 13 of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
CUPE 3479 – North Island College Employees, Courtenay, British Columbia
CUPE 382 – The Board of Education of School District #61 – Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia
CUPE 3967 – Regina Qu’Appelle Regional Health Authority Employees, Regina, Saskatchewan
CUPE 3963 Prince Albert Co-operative Health Center, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
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Global Justice Committee Members and Alternates 2012 – 2013 Elizabeth A. White Jonathan Fourdraine Maciej (Matthew) Zawadzki Debbie Downey Pierre Girard Safia Gahayr Marian White (Co-Chair) Bill Hynd Barbara Wood Sue Roth Jose Juarez and Vickie Angell-Scheler (Alternate) Mike R. McCann Doug Sprenger (Co-Chair) Carol Bunch Karene Benabou Denis Bolduc Kelti Cameron
NL and Labrador Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island New Brunswick Québec Ontario CUSO-International OXFAM CoDev Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia HEU Airline NEB Liaison Staff Person
Solidarity rally with members of the mexico electrical workers union in february 2013
The International Solidarity Report 2012 - 2013 presents an overview of the international projects and activities CUPE supported in the past...