We are approaching the end of what has been both a successful and challenging year for our union. I want to congratulate all 20,000 PSAC members in the Atlantic for your courage, your activism and your resilience. And here’s why.
2013 saw continued efforts by the federal government to single out the public sector by cutting jobs and slashing services that the Canadian public relies on. And we all know, it didn’t stop there. The first Budget of 2013 contained clear signs of attacks to come, in particular on sick leave, compensation and union security.
Recognizing what is at stake, our Union was first out of the gate in launching a major organizing drive that trained rank and file campaigners to have one-on-one conversations with every member about the value of the union. Members everywhere are pledging their commitment to protecting the legal right of workers to belong to unions and the right of unions to work on behalf of their members. The goal of this work is to show a united front in the face of the Conservative Government.
In 2013 PSAC also worked hand-in-hand with other unions to spread our message to other workers and the public. We pooled resources to run television ads about the important work unions do to defend all Canadians. If you haven’t seen the ad on TV, you can watch it here.
This year we saw yet another omnibus budget bill, Bill C-4, that seeks to take away the democratic rights of federal public sector employees and seriously undermines the health and safety protections in the Canada Labour Code. You can find out about how your union has challenged Bill C-4 in Ottawa here.
In the Atlantic, members have risen up against Bill C-4 as well. We’ve lobbied and written MPs and Senators. We’ve held demonstrations. We’ve educated our members. And we’ve published letters to the editor. For example, here’s an opinion editorial that ran in the November 26th edition of The Charlottetown Guardian.
Our union has not only spent the past year fighting back. We’ve also been moving forward.
This past year in the Atlantic we welcomed two new bargaining units into our ranks. We also signed four collective agreements. First nations members in the Miramichi Area established the first Atlantic Regional Aboriginal People’s Circle. We even welcomed Prime Minister Stephen Harper to New Brunswick in August with a demonstration when he attended an event organized by the Conservative Riding Association in Moncton.
One struggle we’re particularly honoured to be a part of is the fight to keep 9 Veterans Affairs Canada offices open, three of which are in our region, in Sydney, Charlottetown and Corner Brook. PSAC members were among the more than 3000 people that took part in the Veterans March of Concern in Sydney Workers at these offices, our members, have emerged as champions for public services and veterans rights. Please watch and share this video shot in Sydney and find out how you can help
I’m happy to announce that early in the New Year, I will be joined by National President Robyn Benson in hold holding our first Atlantic-wide telephone town-hall meeting to discuss Bills C-4, C-377, C-525 and our plan of action in 2014. Stay tuned for details in early January. I look forward to talking to you then.
For the time being, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to you, your local and your families during the holiday season.
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada