Ottawa (February 6, 2013): At its first national bargaining conference the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) promised to fight against attacks on workers from any level of government, including any attempts to bring in legislation attacking the collective political power of workers.
“Collective bargaining is the most critical function we perform for our membership. We stand ready to fight to defend our right to engage in collective bargaining, and will not back down from any government that seeks to remove our free collective bargaining rights,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. “We cannot and will not let Stephen Harper silence our voice and we will not accept any form of right to work legislation.”
The timing of this conference comes with mounting attacks on workers’ rights, including Bill 115 in Ontario. Harper government’s first two years of majority government saw the removal of free collective bargaining rights for Canada Post, Air Canada, and CP Rail workers. This was followed by Bill C-377 which placed onerous financial reporting standards on trade unions. Next up will be some form of legislation aimed at silencing workers’ dissent which will severely limit collective action and skew the balance of labour relations in favour of management.
“You do not make gains only at the bargaining table. Labour also needs to get involved in the political arena to change anti-union governments and that is exactly what CUPE members will continue to do at the municipal, provincial and federal levels,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer, Charles Fleury.
“We have the financial resources necessary to continue the fight to protect our collective agreements and public services. We also have the means to participate in electoral battles and we will use them whenever necessary to help elect governments that share our values,” added Fleury.
CUPE’s National Bargaining Conference brought together over 1,000 CUPE members to stand together against attacks on workers. Conference highlights included speakers from the U.S. and Europe presenting on the assault on both basic trade union rights and public services in the aftermath of the global recession.
“Austerity agendas make bargaining tough. But we will continue the fight not just for bargaining rights for ourselves, but for all workers, along with our goal for social justice for all citizens,” concluded Moist