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OPSEU set to take on the Ontario Liberals


When Ontario Public Service Employees Union delegates gather in Toronto Thursday for their annual convention, they will have the Ontario government in the crosshairs of their sights.

About 2,500 OPSEU delegates, alternates and observers will deal with a call from the union’s executive board to fund a major campaign against privatization and public private partnerships.

The resolution calls on the union to put its full resources into an all-out attack on government policies that threaten public services, provincial finances and the jobs, wages and working conditions of union members.

It notes that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government has made the sale of publicly-owned assets like Hydro One and the increased privatization of alcohol sales the centerpiece of a broad privatization scheme that also encompasses escalating privatization in health care, community social services and all OPSEU sectors through various service restructuring schemes.

“Privatization has consistently failed to provide high quality public services and undermines our common wealth and the role of public services in enhancing the common good,” the resolution says.

The campaign will see union members at all levels of the organization taking the message to their MPs, MPPs and municipal councillors.

Another resolution calls for a public inquiry into the links between the lawyers, bankers and construction companies who benefit from the privatization industry and the Liberal party that they so generously support.

The convention comes at a time of serious labour unrest in the province, spearheaded by the teachers’ unions. OPSEU’s own bargaining for members who work for the Ontario government is headed toward confrontation with the government insisting on continued wage freezes.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the government’s austerity agenda reflects the $8 billion wasted through public private partnerships (P3s). On average, Ontario citizens have spent 29 per cent too much on P3s, money that has needlessly gone to lawyers, bankers and construction companies.

Thomas said that the union is in a strong position, financially and organizationally. “We have to take the lead in this fight. We have to lobby, demonstrate, talk to people and build the links to return Ontario to democratic control,” he said.

“Premier Kathleen Wynne has no mandate to sell shares in Hydro One. She has no mandate to privatize liquor sales. She has no mandate for her attacks on public services and the people who provide them.”

Delegates will also rock to the premiere of a new labour song called Fire It Up, performed by southern rock and country singer Rod Black. OPSEU commissioned the song to fire up a new people’s protest movement in Ontario. Please, find below the link to the video of Fire it Up.  

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Delegates will also elect the union’s two full-time top officers.

The convention continues through Saturday.

For further information:

Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931