Nick Stein Item (m)
The Committee has not met since my last report BUT the Committee has never in its history been more engaged on the issues presently before us.
In late November 2008 the Conservative government of Stephen Harper tabled an economic statement that came close to precipitating the downfall of the Conservatives and only the good will of the Governor General saved Harper from becoming a former Prime Minister. Executive Council was in session then & I must admit that was the most charged and interesting time in my career as a Union activist.
As we all know now, on February 6/09 the Conservatives tabled on omnibus Bill, C-10, dealing with the Budget that was passed in January 2009. On March 4/09 this Bill passed 3rd reading in the House of Commons and has now been sent to the Senate. The interesting aspect and of the passing of the Bill in the House of Commons is that on one of the two motions needed, the Liberals and not the Conservatives moved and seconded the motion. There is no doubt now, that the only coalition in Parliament is between the Conservatives and the Liberals. We will continue our lobbying effort with the Senate.
This Bill had two very harmful aspects to our membership, one being the Pay Equity issue where Pay Equity will now move away from the Canadian Human Rights Commission into the hands of negotiating teams. This is a slap in the face and should not be allowed to happen. Secondly, and perhaps of more interest to our members, since it effects all of us, is the wage rollback in Bill C-10.
Bill C-10 clearly states that our wages, negotiated in good faith, in a historical manner be arbitrarily changed by the stroke of a pen. This is wrong and Harper and his Conservatives will pay for their arrogance if this is allowed to happen. The legislations states that the 2.5% due to our members on November 1/09 will be rolled back to 1.5%. I n addition it states that any wage increase we negotiate in the next round of bargaining be limited to 1.5% for 2010/2011. That simply means that if we negotiate a 3 year deal expiring October 31, 2013then the 1st year’s % increase would be restricted to 1.5%
When the economic statement was tabled the National President decided, and justifiably so, that Council deal with the issue at that time and not the Political Action Committee (PAC). Council would and did discuss the issue(s) and then the matter would in fact be referred to the PAC, which it has been.
The PAC Chair has been in constant contact with the National President and the National Office either by phone, in person or by e-mail on an almost daily basis. We started a political campaign unlike any other we’ve done before. We did handouts, plant gates & other communications to educate and advise the membership of what the Conservatives were doing and more importantly what they would have to do in order to stop this.
The local activists and members responded by contacting their MPs across the country and also contacting key members of the Conservative and the opposition parties.
At the time of writing of this report, I cannot report that our efforts to have Bill C-10 amended have been successful.
On a separate note, the Committee will continue to monitor the Locals’ AGM findings in respect to Convention Resolution #312 and report on these findings after this round of AGMs. After the Conservative Budget and Bill C-10, there should no longer be “ANY” question of the need for UTE to become involved in politics and the need for an active PAC.
The Chair would like to welcome Brother Brad Feraday to the Committee and THANK Sister Annette Melanson for her years of work and commitment to the Committee.
Chair of the Committee