Solidarity Committee Report October 2007 to March 2008

Since our last report of Sept. 2007 committee members have exchanged emails and recently held a conference call. A number of matters have been discussed and proposed directions to be taken are found in the remainder of this report.

During this time span a number of efforts have been continued and the committee is of the view these are worthwhile efforts and should be considered as ongoing.

Cuba Solidarity Network

While there has been little direct activity with these groups since February, these groups such as the Canada-Cuba Solidarity Labour Network remain active organizing worker tours and exchanges as well as sending school and medical supplies. As information is received on such exchanges (the next one is the May Day Tour) the information is circulated. Members are encouraged to continue to be involved in these efforts.

Solidarity with the Philippines Campaign

To date some 9 boxes of school and medical supplies have been sent and some 1,325.00 in cash donations raised. Of the 600 dollars approved by CULE for shipping costs some 225.00 remains to be spent at this time. The Hospital Employees Union in BC felt this is a worthwhile endeavour and provided a 250.00 donation to purchase additional medical and school supplies. Members are encouraged to continue to participate in this campaign with the groups in the Philippines(Report attached).


Operation Christmas Child.

The committee voiced its support for this campaign of filling a shoebox with school supplies etc. and a toy of a child in Africa. The request for support came from members in the Halifax area for this national campaign undertaken by churches and schools across the country. In Halifax some 279 boxes were filled and sent. A similar amount of boxes were filled and sent from schools and churches in the Kingston area. The committee encourages this continued effort(Report attached).

Solidarity Initiatives of Children of CULE Members

The participation of the children of CULE members in educational and work or study activity supportive of worker solidarity and social justice both at home and abroad is a fundamental part of the mandate of the committee as it provides a platform for participant “hands on” learning of solidarity and social justice concepts and their actualization. Support was given to one request during this year as follows(Report attached).

Youth Social Justice Youth Camp

We previously have received and circulated the report submitted by the daughter of the CULE member who attended this camp in the Maritimes. Some 250.00 was provided for this matter. She found it a very positive and rewarding educational experience.

Solidarity Cookbook

The book is in its second printing and continues to be popular. A total of 250 books have been printed to date. We have collected 1685.00 so far from the sale of 112 books. Some 1,531.80 has been spent on printing costs and 160.90 has been spent on mailing costs for a total of 1,692.70 so we are close to the break even point in this endeavour. Members are encouraged to purchase these items and promote the sale of them. We very much appreciate the support to date.

Funding clause in the New Coll. Agmt.

With the new collective agmt there is a clause which provides for an annual 5,000.00 dollar contribution to the fund by the Employer.

New Initiatives

There are 2 new initiatives as follows the committee would like to encourage support for and requests the Executive pass a motion to that effect.

Haiti

Be it resolved that the Public Service Alliance of Canada encourage all of its Locals/Branches to give on-going financial support as determined by the Local/Branch to the Haitian Solidarity Fund to support our Haitian brothers and sisters in their historic struggle for basic human rights, a decent minimum wage, and basic educational, health and social services in Haiti.

Be it further resolved that the funds provided by the Locals/Branches be administered by the PSAC.

Rationale:

Working people and their unions in Haiti have faced huge obstacles in their struggle to advance human rights, economic equality and peace in their country. They need the support of working people and their unions in Canada and around the world if they are to succeed. PSAC members should be made aware of their struggles and encouraged to support their efforts by providing financial support. The Haitian Solidarity Fund aims to assist unions in Haiti with their difficult work of organizing and representing the poorest and most exploited workers in Haiti. The fund was created following a cross country speaking tour in May 2007 or leaders from Haiti’s union and women’s movement and has the support of the Canadian Labour Congress and other Canadian Unions.

Protection of Domestic Workers and Workers Hired Under the Foreign Workers Program (Composite)

Be it resolved that CULE pressure the Government of Canada to amend the Regulations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and remove all special requirements that apply only to workers selected as part of the Live-in Caregiver Program and the Agricultural Worker Program. At present, those affected must:

  1. first serve 24 months under the total authority of a specific employer;

  2. work full time during this period and be available 24 hours a day;

  3. reside at their employer’s residence at all times during this period;

  4. have a nominative temporary work permit;

  5. be separated from their families for at least three years, if required.

Be it further resolved that CULE pressure the Government of Canada to remove from its Foreign Workers Program all discriminatory treatment to International workers selected for their employability for occupations requiring little or not post secondary education, particularly the imposition of inhuman and anti-constitutional conditions on them such as:

  1. placement under the total authority of a single employer;

  2. the requirement to live at the employer’s residence at all times;

  3. the virtual need, if necessary, to be separated from their families while in Canada under a temporary work permit.

Be it further resolved that CULE pressure the Government of Canada and the Parliament of Canada in order that Canada quickly launch and complete the ratification process of the United National Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families.

Rationale: The vast majority of workers who come to work in Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program, the Agricultural Worker Program and the Foreign Workers Program are racialized and from the Global South. They are often denied fundamental human rights and labour rights by their employers and are not in a position to challenge the abuse they often are subjected to as they are on temporary work permits. Removing the restrictive requirements they are bound by would allow these workers to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other workers.

The administration and enforcement of these programs which include these restrictive requirements are done through a host of federal government departments and agencies such as Citizenship and Immigration, HRSDC, and CBSA.

Canada has yet to ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Their Families which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1990 and the PSAC should join with other progressive organizations to pressure them to do so.

Web Space

The committee requests the executive approve a separate space or page on the website for the committee so that the history of the committee and its mandate and its reports can be posted for viewing by CULE members.

In closing the committee would like to note that it welcomes members interested in being a part of this committee

In Solidarity,

Philippe Trottier

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