heads urge workers to fight privatization
OTTAWA (CP) — Canadian union leaders urged the workers
of the world Monday to save public services from the ravages
of globalization by actively lobbying their governments
Speaking to over 1,000 delegates at an international congress
of labour unions, Canadian Labour Congress president Ken
Georgetti called on workers to speak out against the increasing
privatization of public services such as energy, water and
"(We're) calling on all workers to become political again.
It's time for a change," Georgetti said in a speech opening
Georgetti said he was "shocked" to hear Prime Minister Jean
Chrétien say at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
in Johannesburg that privatization was key to vitalizing
public water systems in the developing world.
"Shame on him," Georgetti said, given Canada's poor track
record for drinking water safety.
He cited the tainted water scandal in Walkerton, Ont., where
in May 2000, seven people died and 2,300 fell ill in the
southwestern Ontario community when deadly bacteria E. coli
made its way into the town's water supply. "It's time for
a reality check for those elites and those politicians who
have gotten away with far too much for far too long," Georgetti
said. "Working people want more. Working people expect more."
The CLC, which represents 2.5 million Canadian workers,
also released its annual report card on work to mark Labour
Day. The study indicated that despite working harder, the
quality of life for Canadian workers is eroding.
They are more worried about losing their jobs, working longer
hours and have less job security, the study said. There
was also a 34 per cent increase from 2001 of workers who
said their income fell short of what they required to meet
Georgetti's harsh criticism of privatization was echoed
by William Lucy, president of the Public Services International,
an international public sector union federation representing
more than 20 million workers worldwide.
"We have . . . a moral obligation to fight privatization
in all of its forms," said Lucy.
"We cannot — and will not — sit idly by as the essential
services that provide the foundation for a better life are
shifted to the private sector for profit rather than progress."
He said the public sector is increasingly threatened by
multinational corporations, who want to exploit resources
and basic services for profit.
"We must remain vigilant, scrutinizing every effort that
would deliver water, energy, transport, communication, travel
and tourism, and any other public services to the highest
bidder," he added.
Both the prime minister and federal Labour Minister Claudette
Bradshaw were invited to the conference but neither could
attend, organizers said.
The five-day conference takes place once every five years.
It is hosted in Canada by the Canadian Union of Public Employees,
Service Employees International Union Canada, National Union
of Public and General Employees and the Public Service Alliance