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Privatization: one battle is won but the war goes on

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Dear sisters and brothers:

It’s official: The McGuinty Liberals have put a stake through the heart of a very bad idea called “Supercorp.”

It’s a big relief. The basic idea of Supercorp was this:

  1. the LCBO, Ontario Lottery and Gaming, Hydro One, and Ontario Power Generation would become a single company;
  2. the Liberals would sell 20 per cent of it to private investors; and
  3. the Liberals would spend that money on their re-election in 2011.

It was never a good proposal. Supercorp would have robbed Ontarians of a big chunk of the $4 billion a year those companies earn for all of us. And by giving investors a say in management, I believe it would have cut jobs and pushed down wages right across the board.

On July 12, the Finance Minister announced that Supercorp was dead. The reasons he gave were technical, but the real reasons were political. Both Minister Duncan and Premier McGuinty knew the public didn’t like the idea. More importantly, they knew that the opposition was going to be organized and effective.

In 2010 the Liquor Board Employees Division of OPSEU has worked hard to create allies to fight Supercorp.

The Division reached out to the public. It hosted a national meeting of liquor unions. It worked with our Executive Board to picket a Liberal Cabinet meeting. It forged strong ties with the Society of Energy Professionals, a sister union in the electricity sector.

Together, OPSEU and the Society funded focus groups and polling. We laid the groundwork for a major campaign. And we sent a clear message to the Liberals that Supercorp was a fight they could not win.

Sadly, the privatization threat will never go away. It can’t go away as long as our world is driven by the quest for profit. Private companies will keep asking government for more “opportunities,” and they will keep funding the politicians who will provide them.

We will always be fighting privatization’s attack on our jobs and the public services our communities need. For today, though, let’s celebrate a victory.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas President,
Ontario Public Service Employees Union

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