"Wages are always important. But it’s now more important to make sure that every one of our contracts has clauses that protect public services, our members, and the public interest. If privatization is being contemplated, we want to ensure that any proposals provide for complete transparency, public accountability, and meaningful public consultation before any service can be privatized," says NUPGE National President James Clancy.
Ottawa (03 Nov. 2014) — Privatization always strips citizens of control over their public services, and during an international conference last week in Ottawa, the leaders of the unions that make up that National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) recommitted to fight privatization at every turn.
“They’re our public services. We all pay for them. We all rely on them. We all benefit from them,” said NUPGE National President James Clancy. “Privatization violates the principles of equality and empathy and openness that we share with the vast majority of Canadians."
“We will continue to fight for Canadians’ right to complete information about privatizations. With true transparency and public accountability, Canadians will say no to every privatization scheme out there.”
Twin track strategy to fight privatization industry
During The International Conference on the New Forms of Privatization, Clancy and more than 100 other provincial public sector union leaders and staff sketched out a two-track strategy to counter the secretive industry driving privatization.
The first track will focus on empowering Canadians to get the full story on any privatization before it happens. It will be a broad-based campaign for transparency and public accountability drawing on the support of people, politicians and organizations across the political spectrum.
At its core will be The Public Services Protection Plan which, in five simple points, will ensure that all privatization proposals are subject to meaningful scrutiny by all the stakeholders. Politicians signing on to the plan will be committing to
- providing demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved service
- engaging an independent agency to perform a credible social and economic cost/benefit review
- ensuring that Canadians currently providing the service or overseeing the asset have standing during the review
- ensuring that the review is tabled for public debate in the relevant legislature or council
- guaranteeing that if, after public debate on the independent review, politicians choose to privatize a service, the employees currently providing that service retain their wages and benefits.
Privatization needs to be top priority at the bargaining table
The second track of the strategy focuses on the bargaining table. Clancy called on all of the bargaining units in NUPGE to make privatization their top bargaining priority. “Wages are always important,” he told the conference delegates. “But it’s now more important to make sure that every one of our contracts has clauses that protect public services, our members, and the public interest. If privatization is being contemplated we want to ensure that any proposals provide for complete transparency, public accountability and meaningful public consultation before any service can be privatized."
OPSEU/NUPGE President Warren (Smokey) Thomas rose after Clancy’s remarks and told the conference: “OPSEU and our 130,000 members are in 1,000 per cent.” He said 34,000 of the members working for the Ontario Public Service go to the table later this month and that their top priority will be achieving language that protects the public and members against privatization.
“We can’t wait on this anymore, folks," said Thomas. "We’re starting now.”
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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE