COPE Signed Santiago Declaration for Public Services

From 29th November to 2nd December over a thousand representatives from over one hundred countries, from grassroots movements, advocacy, human rights, and development organisations, feminist movements, trade unions, and other civil society organisations, met in Santiago, Chile, and virtually, to discuss the critical role of public services for our future.

The commercialisation and privatisation of public services and the commodification of all aspects of life have driven growing inequalities and entrenched power disparities, giving prominence to profit and corruption over people’s rights and ecological and social well-being. It adversely affects workers, service users, and communities, with the costs and damages falling disproportionately on those who have historically been exploited.

“COPE represents thousands of workers in the public sector, so signing the declaration was self-evident for the good of all those we represent,” explained Annette Toth, President of COPE.

To read the Santiago Declaration clic here.

Canada’s unions are lifting everyone up

The current parliamentary session has drawn to a close, and Canada’s unions are taking the opportunity to celebrate the progress made this year for workers.

In 2022, many workers and their families buckled under sky-high inflation, eye-popping grocery bills and stagnant wages, as well as rapid interest rate hikes, which drove up housing costs. But unions have been a strong voice to correct the Bank of Canada’s single-minded strategy of lowering inflation by raising rates, at the expense of workers.

“Canada’s unions are working hard to fend off a Bank of Canada-manufactured recession. Throwing hundreds of thousands out of work now would be devastating,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Unions urged the federal government to throw a lifeline to struggling families. Cooperation between the New Democrats and the Liberal government resulted in significant gains, including dental care for low-income children and a $500 rent subsidy for low-income renters. The GST rebate was also doubled, providing relief to many Canadians. Unions will continue to call for EI reform, which is more important than ever as Canada teeters on the brink of a recession.

“Parliamentarians working together, across party lines, is key to progress,” said Ms. Bruske. She added that Canada’s unions would push for more cooperation to tackle the pressing challenges ahead of us.

Unions have also led the charge against corporate greed. “When we have grocery CEOs clinking glasses with shareholders to celebrate colossal profits at the same time as one in five families are skipping meals to get by, something is broken,” Bruske added. “We hope to see progress urgently. The federal agriculture committee’s investigation into grocery store profits is a good first step and we welcome it, but there is still much that needs to be done.”

Affordability is not the only issue on Canadians’ minds. This year, in the shadow of a health care crisis, unions helped secure $2 billion in additional funding for health care to help people access the care they need. But those funds just scratched the surface of the needs of our care systems.

“Emergency rooms are overflowing with sick kids. People are waiting up to a decade to find a family doctor. Health care workers are overworked, underpaid and exhausted. We need urgent action from our provincial and federal governments to ensure staff are supported, and everyone in Canada has access to quality, public health care when they need it,” said Bruske.

Child care workers, their unions and advocates across the country scored a major victory when the federal government penned agreements for $10/day child care programs in all provinces. Bruske commented, “Affordable child care makes it easier for parents to work and provide for their families, and it will give children the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe and nurturing environment.” Next, we must ensure child care is accessible and workers have good working conditions.

“We’ve made progress but we can’t lose sight of the next big challenge ahead, the climate crisis, which continues to threaten people in Canada and around the world,” said Bruske, who applauded the federal government’s $250 million investment in the Sustainable Jobs Training Centre and the Union Training and Innovation Program. “Now we expect workers to be given a seat at the table, and we’re looking for meaningful investments in sustainable jobs that will help Canada meet its climate targets,” she added.

2022 also produced some significant wins for workers’ rights. Ontario Premier Doug Ford attempted to block workers’ charter right to strike and impose a collective agreement on low-paid education workers. He was forced to back down and sent back to the bargaining table because of the strength and unity of the labour movement across Canada.

Unions made strides on worker-centered legislation. Bill C-228, which will protect workers’ hard-earned pensions in the event of employer bankruptcy, passed the House of Commons. Now, we urge Senators to waste no time and make sure this bill is passed swiftly. The federal government also announced anti-scab legislation, which will go a long way towards restoring fairness at the bargaining table. A major focus of next year will be ensuring both pieces of legislation pass into law quickly.

“Canadian unions are a powerful force for good, standing up for workers and advocating for strong public services, education and health care that benefit everyone,” said Ms. Bruske. “We’re just getting started. This year, we have proven that our labour movement is stronger than ever. We are ready to do what it takes to put workers first and fight against corporate greed and injustice in 2023 and beyond.”

Canada’s unions express solidarity and demand action on reproductive rights

Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, released the following statement:

“Today, the Supreme Court of the United States delivered a devastating decision to overturn the landmark precedent set 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade. The decision to rule against the constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion care jeopardizes the reproductive rights of millions of Americans.

“Canada’s unions are reacting to this decision with deep concern and a renewed commitment to redouble our efforts for equitable access to abortion care and reproductive health services across our country.

“Access to safe, legal abortion is a fundamental human right that must be guaranteed to everyone and should not be a privilege related to the colour of your skin, where you live or how much money you have. Taking away peoples’ reproductive health and rights is wrong and will inevitably impact poor and racialized communities the most.

“Abortion bans do not stop abortion. They only make abortions harder to access and more dangerous, particularly for communities who are already marginalized. The World Health Organization estimates that 25 million unsafe abortions take place each year, and identifies that the lack of safe, respectful, timely abortion care services is a critical public health issue and leading cause for maternal deaths and morbidities world-wide.

“While abortion is decriminalized in Canada, barriers to accessing this essential health service persist. These barriers include a lack of accurate information, travel and other costs associated with accessing care, wait times, and gestational limits. These barriers disproportionately impact low-income, young, newcomer and racialized populations, as well as people with disabilities, and those living in rural and remote communities.

“Anti-abortion movements, attacks on 2SLGBTQI communities, and the growing tide of right-wing extremism, are well funded movements that have no borders. We must remain vigilant in standing up for the rights of all people.

“While there is still much work to do here in Canada, we remain committed in our solidarity to all advocates and activists continuing the fight for bodily autonomy and gender justice, in the United States and around the world.”

For more information about sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada:
Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada: https://www.arcc-cdac.ca/
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights: https://www.actioncanadashr.org/

Looking ahead to Labour Day 2022: A pivotal moment to move Forward Together

To:  Members of the CLC Canadian Council, Federations of Labour, Labour Councils and CLC Staff

Greetings:

Labour Day plays a critical moment in our movement’s calendar. It represents the coming together of workers to celebrate our collective victories and advance our efforts to improve the lives of all workers.

The global pandemic has shone a harsh light on society’s inequalities; inequalities the labour movement has long fought to address.

Following the last global pandemic, through the Great Depression and World War II, workers organized in unions to build a better future. In the resulting decades, Canada’s middle class was created. Through collective organizing, workers rebuilt a fairer economy and paved a pathway to prosperity for millions of families.

With the challenges facing workers from the current pandemic, the solution to a better future remains the same as it was a hundred years ago; workers must organize.

Through collective organizing into unions, we can build a better future. A future without precarity in the workplace, a future with paid sick leave, higher wages and fairer benefits.

When we organize collectively we can ensure life is fairer for everyone. We can bring down the costs families face with pharmacare, affordable housing and dental coverage. We can ensure care is there and accessible for our loved ones when they need it. We can tackle the climate crisis head-on, while creating good, sustainable jobs in communities across Canada.

Labour Day 2022 is an opportunity to call for societal transformation to address the social and economic gaps in our communities. It is a pivotal moment to send a clear message that this is our moment as a movement, that we will move Forward Together.

Our Labour Day 2022 theme will be Forward Together: This is our moment. We believe it is forward-looking, inclusive and sends a message to all workers that there is a brighter path forward with Canada’s unions.

This theme will allow us to highlight policies we know will make life better for all Canadians – including calling for better jobs and better workplace health and safety measures, and a better social safety net.

Canada’s labour movement has a bold, progressive plan that aims to narrow the gap between the have and have-nots and place workers directly at the centre of a COVID-19 recovery.

This Labour Day, we will champion the policies we know Canadians deserve and we will demonstrate how unions benefit communities and workers.

Canadians came together to fight COVID-19 with focus and determination. We must come together in the same way to build a future that ensures no one is left behind. Canada’s unions are integral in shaping this bold future and helping to lead a clear path to recovery.

In order to help labour bodies promote Labour Day events, editable promotional posters and social media share graphics can be downloaded. You’ll also find our messaging guide for all of your Labour Day content needs.

In the coming weeks, you will be receiving more information on digital productstools and templates for use in the lead up to and on Labour Day.

Together, we will demonstrate our commitment to improving the lives of all Canadians.

Please contact our political action and communications team with any questions at politics@clcctc.ca.

In solidarity,

Bea Bruske
President

Link to official letter here.

Convention 2022: Join us in Vancouver June 2-4

COPE-SEPB’s triennial convention is taking place June 2nd to 4th, 2022 in Vancouver, BC at the Westin Bayshore Hotel near beautiful Stanley Park. The convention will be preceded by equity caucuses on June 1st.

The theme of our convention is “It Starts with Equity”. The focus of our National Executive and Canadian Equity Council this term has been how to engage and include members of equity seeking groups within our membership more meaningfully. Significant constitutional changes are being proposed to ensure voices from equity seeking groups are included in our national union at the highest levels. Resolutions will also be brought forward on how the National union can assist locals and councils to do more equity work at the grassroots level.

Convention is the highest decision-making body in our national union, and both elects and sets the direction for the National Executive for the next three years.

Check out our Covention 2022 page for all the documents and updates as we get closer to meeting together in Vancouver this June!

Put an end to this occupation of our nation’s capital: Statement from Canada’s unions

Canada’s unions have fought for generations for the right to protest. This is a cornerstone of our democratic system. But what we have witnessed on the streets of Canada’s capital over the past thirteen days is something different altogether. This is not a protest, it is an occupation by an angry mob trying to disguise itself as a peaceful protest.

We have seen an occupation of city streets and parks, disrupting workers, businesses and residents. Frontline workers, from retail to health workers, have been bullied and harassed. We have witnessed noise attacks keeping families up at all hours. We have seen right-wing extremists spreading messages filled with racism and intolerance, flying the Nazi and Confederate flags, alongside other symbols of violence and hate. We have seen organizers not only demand the end of all public health rules, but also call for the overthrow of our democratically elected government.

The leaders of this occupation include people who espoused Islamophobic, Anti-Semitic and racist hate on social media, organizers of the notorious far-right yellow vest protests, and people spreading extreme conspiracy theories and calls for violence. This is an attack on all of Canada and not just the people of Ottawa. Canada’s unions stand together, unequivocally opposed to these vile and hateful messages and condemn the ongoing harassment and violence against the people of Ottawa.

This occupation of Ottawa streets, on top of the latest wave of the pandemic, is having a devastating effect on the livelihood of already struggling workers and businesses. Workers are being harassed and bullied for just trying to stay safe while serving customers. Other businesses are being forced to close, which leaves them and their employees suffering economic losses they can ill afford.

This occupation has also raised serious questions about an uneven application of policing. Authorities spent the first week taking a hands-off approach to the occupation of city streets and parks, not even handing out parking tickets as big rigs blocked busy intersections and local businesses were forced to shutter. This is a far cry from the kinds of crackdowns we have seen in the past towards Indigenous land protests, Black Lives Matter and other equity-seeking activists or striking workers.

Over the past thirteen days, we have seen an unacceptable lack of leadership from those charged with maintaining the peace and defending public safety. Once this situation has been resolved, Canada’s unions believe it is vital that there be a full investigation into the response by all levels of government to this occupation.

The Omicron wave is still affecting our communities and Canada’s health care systems are inundated with patients and plagued by shortages of nurses, doctors and health care workers. Canada’s unions believe it is absolutely critical that public health decisions are based on science, and not on politics or an angry mob. We continue to call for strong occupational health & safety measures for all workers.

Canada’s unions call on the federal and provincial governments to work together and quickly deliver urgently needed direct supports to the workers and businesses affected.

It is time for all levels of government to work together to help the people affected and put an end to this occupation of our nation’s capital.

COPE-SEPB calls for the cancellation of omnibus law on job creation in Indonesia

October 8, 2021

 

Mr. Joko Widodo, President, Republic of Indonesia

 

 

Constitutional Court of Indonesia

West Medan Merdeka Street no. 6, Central Jakarta 10110

Indonesia

 

House of Representatives of Indonesia

Gatot Subroto Street, Senayan, Jakarta 10270

Indonesia

CC: Embassy of Indonesia in Canada

 

Dear President,

Dear Honourable members of the Constitutional Court,

Dear Honourable members of the House of Representatives,

We write this letter to you on behalf of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE-SEPB), to express serious concerns about the Omnibus Law on Job Creation because it leads to greater labour flexibility at the expense of fundamental labour rights.

Our global union IndustriALL, at its third congress with the participation of 3,000 participants from 434 organizations and coming from 111 countries on 14-15 September 2021, adopted unanimously a resolution, which calls for the cancellation of Omnibus Law 11/2020. The full text of the resolution is available at this link.

The resolution refers to the following crucial elements in this law to be rejected:

  • Elimination of sectoral minimum wage (UMSK and eliminate minimum wage regional (UMK);
  • Excessive use and expansion of precarious work, particularly outsourcing, for lifetime without future;
  • Significant changes to fixed-term employment contracts, outsourcing, hours of work, and the termination of employment procedure;
  • Nominal of the severance pay is reduced;
  • Layoffs or dismissal are made easier since there is no longer need for negotiations between bipartite employers and workers;
  • Wages of women workers on leave and maternity are not paid;
  • Working hours are exploitative, i.e. management unilaterally regulates without negotiation;
  • Low wages with the application of hourly wages, which will only be 60-70% of the minimum wage.

In its current form, this law is in clear violation of international standards on human and labour rights as well as against the interests of Indonesian people and workers.

Therefore, we call on the President, Constitutional Court and House of Representatives of Indonesia to use your executive, judicial, and legislative powers to cancel the Omnibus Law on Job Creation.

We anticipate your prompt reply and action.

Yours sincerely,

David Black,

President, COPE-SEPB