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Monday, November 2

National Convention begins!

CUPE members from across Canada began important conversations on the challenges facing workplaces nation-wide at Sunday’s Sector Council meetings.

Airlines: More than 50 representatives of CUPE flight attendant unions met all day Sunday. The revision of the constitution and financing of common projects were widely discussed during this biannual convention of the CUPE’s Airline Division.

Child care: “We don’t know what Justin Trudeau’s commitment to child care is and we have to send a message that is loud and clear,” said Mira Oreck, Director of Public Engagement with the Broadbent Institute to the sector. She added that we need an affordable, accessible, quality national child care plan.

Education: “Public education across this country is undervalued and underfunded.” That’s the main message heard by attendees at the education sector meeting on Sunday, though the election of an NDP government in Alberta represented a bright spot. Delegates also heard from Benjamin Valbuena, head of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in the Philippines.

Emergency services: Members agreed that despite population growth in urban centres and increased call volumes, paramedic services are not growing. There aren’t enough paramedics on the road, putting patients needing trauma care at risk.  Paramedics are fighting a proposal to dilute training in order to use less skilled personnel.

Energy: Attacks on pensions and threats of privatization are frequent in the energy sector. In Quebec, members fight to preserve their gains. In Ontario, the government wants to sell 15 per cent of Hydro One. In Alberta, contracting out is the biggest threat. In Manitoba, the context is better with an NDP government in power.

Health care: 300 health care delegates stressed the need to intensify campaigns to protect and expand our public system. With growing attacks on the public system, the delegates called for increased mobilization for a new health accord, long term care and the fight against privatization.

Library: Library workers from across Canada kicked off the 2015 CUPE convention on Sunday morning with a keen focus on precarious employment. Noting that half of library workers are in part-time or casual employment, the workers agreed to make precarious employment the focus of one of their priority resolutions.

Municipal: Participants at the municipal sector meeting focused on mobilizing against attacks on pension plans. Speakers described how CUPE members organized to protect defined benefit plans in Halifax, Alberta and Quebec - where the fight continues. The meeting closed with lessons from the ongoing struggle against water privatization in Greece.

Post-secondary: A panel discussion at the post-secondary sector meeting addressed several important issues, including significant developments in pensions that could impact plans across the country, participation of members in Quebec’s common front, and issues around distance learning.  Delegates also discussed resolutions coming before the convention.

Provincial governments & crown corporations: Members described the negative impacts of austerity and privatization in their workplaces.  They discussed how the public sector is suffering from a crisis generated by the private sector. Harjap Grewal from the Council of Cana-dians presented some possible solutions.

Social services: Social service sector members are facing high workloads, unsafe workplaces, precarious jobs and a push to drive down wages resulting from changes to government funding and policy. A new campaign template tool Righteous Work – Just Pay was unveiled to help local unions fight-back on the ground. 

Busting the ‘gold-plated’ pension myth

Busting the myth of the ‘gold-plated’ public sector pension and effective strategies for fighting back against attacks to the defined benefit plans were highlighted at this year’s Pension Forum. CUPE pension expert Mark Janson provided an overview of the most persistent pension myths, which was followed by a lively panel discussion on CUPE success stories of defending defined benefit plans. Read the full article.

Thunderclap! Make some noise for the planet 

CUPE delegates and friends are invited to join the Thunderclap in support of the Leap Manifesto to build stronger, more equal and more sustainable communities. Go to to register. A message will be posted on your Facebook page on Nov. 5 at 11 a.m. PST. 

  • 12:30 p.m. Defending workers’ rights in the UK with UNISON’s Wendy Nichols, Speaker's Corner, CUPE Village
  • 5 p.m. Election Forum, West Exhibit Hall A & B1
  • 6 p.m. Equality Forum, West Ballroom B
  • 8 p.m. Youth Forum, Room 109-110
  • 7 p.m. Health and Safety Forum, West Ballroom C & D
  • 9 p.m. Convention Dance, Fairmont Vancouver, BC Ballroom
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Copyright © 2015 Canadian Union of Public Employees, All rights reserved.

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