Archive for the 'International Solidarity' Category



PSAC has joined with unions from across Canada, to show solidarity with the people of Pakistan who are struggling to gain access to disaster relief after weeks of devastating floods. The union announced a $30,000 donation to Oxfam Canada this week, contributing to more than $200,000 pledged by the Canadian labour movement to various relief efforts.

“Food crops and seeds have been decimated and nearly a million homes washed away. An estimated 8 million people have been affected by the floods and are in urgent need of emergency aid,” said John Gordon, PSAC National President. “Unless humanitarian aid reaches the affected communities soon, more people will succumb to water borne diseases and potential starvation.”

PSAC’s donation is being channelled through the union’s Social Justice Fund, which was established in 2003 to support initiatives to help eliminate poverty and injustice in Canada and around the world. Operating from a position of solidarity not charity, the fund advocates for political change and works with union partners around the world to help defend and re-build public services.

“Poor people are facing the worst of the impact from extreme climate change around the globe,” said Gordon. “Our union is committed to supporting people affected by natural disasters, while also advocating for the Canadian government to unfreeze its aid budget and take substantive steps to lower Canada’s green house gas emissions.”

PSAC urges its members to give generously to help the people of Pakistan during this critical time by donating to Oxfam or the charity of their choice.

The Play Fair campaign is a coalition of labour rights groups that seek to push sportswear brands that produce merchandise for the Olympic Games to abolish sweatshop conditions in their supply chains and to respect labour rights.

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PSAC would like to express its solidarity with the people of Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck at the heart of this nation on the afternoon of January 12, 2010.

PSAC calls on our members and allies to mobilize all efforts possible to provide assistance to the people of Haiti who have suffered a great loss of life, and the collapse of vital infrastructure and public services as the result of the earthquake.

There is an urgent and immediate need for disaster relief assistance, including clean water, food, shelter and medical assistance on the ground. PSAC Social Justice Fund has already channeled funds to provide emergency medical services in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Furthermore, the SJF is working with Public Services International and other unions and humanitarian relief organizations to ensure that the emergency aid provided today will contribute to long-term improvements, sustainable development and a better tomorrow for the Haitian people.

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We recently shipped the second Balikbayan box to the Philippines and received this message from Kilusang para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (Movement for Nationalism and Democracy) – the Alliance that received our last box.

Dear Friends in PSAC BC and VDLC, Warm Greetings from the Philippines!

We are happy that another box from you is on its way here.

We appreciate these balikbayan boxes knowing that for each item to be gathered and placed inside a cardboard box that would travel hundreds of miles from there to here is the fruits of your effort to make real the concept of international solidarity — a mutually enriching relationship towards a greater good.

And that inspires us. Thank you.

DJ Janier, Popular Struggles Committee, Director

Please join the B.C. Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (BCCHRP) in celebrating International Human Rights Day!

December 10 marks the 61st anniversary the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In the spirit of building genuine people-to-people solidarity with those hardest hit by the financial crisis because of job loss and lack of economic security, and increasing violence by militarization and war, it is becoming more important for us to gather, listen and learn from each other as we organize in our struggles.

Join BCCHRP and special guests for a cultural evening of solidarity!

Rites for Humanity

  • Wednesday, December 9 @ 7:00 pm
  • Zawa Restaurant, 920 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
  • $5-10 sliding scale donation at the door

Event organized by the B.C. Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (BCCHRP); Co-sponsored by the Vancouver & District Labour Council (VDLC) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

Please contact bcchrp@kalayaancentre.net for more information.

Download the poster for the event here:  R4H

Canada’s government is too quiet on abuses say human rights advocates.

Why is Canada’s government promoting the Philippines as a prime place to invest, even as workers in that nation face abduction, torture and death for trying to organize unions?

Increasingly, that question is being pressed by human rights activists in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada.

In the United States, Walmart and other big apparel firms have sent a critical letter to Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, citing in her country a “pattern of harassment and violence against workers, labour leaders and human rights promoters.”

And the International Trade Union Confederation, which represents 178 million workers in 158 different countries, last year documented a grim situation that has further deteriorated. “Four trade union officials were shot and killed by unknown assassins and the military intimidated and harassed union officials. The authorities continued frustrating worker attempts to form unions and arrested union officials,” reported the confederation.

In April, Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, joined a long list of other Canadian labour leaders as well as many Canadian churches in sending a letter to the Philippine president. “We vehemently protest the on-going human and labour rights violations and repression perpetrated by state authorities in the Philippines,” they wrote.

Read the rest at thetyee.ca.

forwarded on behalf of CoDevelopment Canada

Dear CoDev supporters,

We found out on Friday last week that the government will bring Bill C-23, implementation legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, back to the House of Commons this week. We’re told by NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian’s office that the government hopes to hold a second reading and vote by the end of the week, which will send the FTA to committee for more deliberations.

You will remember that the Liberal opposition, led by Trade Critic Scott Brison, is backing away from the all-party standing committee decision last year that called for an “impartial human rights impact assessment be carried out by a competent body, which is subject to independent levels of scrutiny and validation,” prior to moving ahead with Bill C-23. The first order on the bill this week is to debate a motion by the Bloc Quebecois that would pull C-23 from the order paper on the grounds that the Harper government ignored this all-party recommendation. If this motion is voted on and defeated by the Conservatives and Liberals, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will be one step closer to becoming reality.

It is urgent that Canadians write THIS WEEK and express their views on the CCFTA. We are asking CoDev members and supporters send messages to their MP and to key Liberal MPs expressing their views. We are including here some new information that you may want to pass on to your MP. Urge your MP to support the Bloc motion to remove the CCFTA.

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Do you have useful items that can be donated to our sisters and brothers in the Philippines?

The PSAC-BC region is supporting the Vancouver & District Labour Council’s “Balikbayan Box” campaign to gather material support for union and community organizations doing important organizing work in the Philippines.

That these organizers are risking their lives to carry out this work is not an exaggeration. In the past two years more than 70 trade union leaders and activists have been murdered in the Philippines.

Your or your Local/Branch can provide material support to these organizations by contributing small items or surplus supplies which we will ship to the Philippines in a “Balikbayan Box”, a 1.5 sq metre box, which we can fill to the brim and ship to the Philippines.

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On August 20th we will be hosting a presentation by Laarni de los Reyes, a trade unionist and community activist who took part in the VDLC tour to the Philippines last year. Laarni will be telling us about her experiences as part of the tour, including her interaction with a number of young workers who are union organizers in the Philippines, the second most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists.

Many of these young organizers are now sponsored by the VDLC and its affiliates, allowing them to continue and expand their crucial work in defence of workers rights and interests.

Please RSVP by August 15th.

Presentation on the Struggle of Young Workers in the Philippines

Thursday, August 20th, 6pm PSAC BC Office,
200-5238 Joyce Street, Vancouver, B.C.

To RSVP and for more info contact Stephen (778.231.4635)

Call for Sweatships to Stop Exploitation of Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A group calling themselves the Pirates of Justice is urging Vancouverites to dress as pirates and converge on Canada Place at exactly 1pm this Saturday, July 18, 2009. Organisers say the flash mob will be a fun and impactful way to raise awareness of widespread cruise ship exploitation. The event is being promoted on Facebook as well as by email and word of mouth.

According to organisers, Vancouver is Canada’s largest port and provides the perfect location for drawing attention to the exploitation that takes place on cruise ships, which the activists are labelling sweatships.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) reports that cruise ship employees contend with a hidden world of long hours, low pay, insecurity and exploitation, especially those from economically marginalized countries who are often supporting dependants and unable to find employment at home.

A spokesman for the Pirates of Justice, identifying himself only as Blackbeard, points to studies which show widespread exploitation of cruise ship employees,Vancouverites are largely unaware of the conditions on these cruise ships. If they knew there were sweatships right here in our city under our noses, I believe there would be an outcry. Well be raising a Jolly Roger flag of freedom this Saturday at Canada Place and we invite everyone who cares about justice, or just likes dressing up in girly blouses and peg legs to join us.

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La Chiva (with the help of many friends) has begun a major fundraising campaign in Vancouver to support of the Tejido de Comunicacin of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, Colomba (http://www.nasaacin.org).

The Tejido has asked for our help in raising funds to repair the equipment for Radio Pa-Yumat, their community radio station, which was destroyed last December by unknown saboteurs, seriously hindering their ability to accompany their communities.

This and many other attacks and threats have come from all of Colombia’s armed actors. The attacks are clearly in response to their community’s position of non-violent resistance to war and the effectiveness of the Tejido’s communications strategy in bringing that message to the national and international scene (see: http://www.nasaacin.org/noticias.htm?x=9919).

For the Nasa indigenous communicators, communication is simultaneously community accompaniment and resistance to what they call the ‘death project’ presented by transnational interests and the armed actors that threaten the viability of popular community-based responses, or ‘life plans’.

Truth, participation and democracy derived from the communities are what social movements seek to strengthen within society. They are confronting the mass media, which engages in what might be more accurately regarded as propaganda rather than communication: the domination of the media landscape to ensure passive audiences and to halt the development of communication based on raising consciousness from social movements. Is this confrontation why the Communications Weavers are currently being singled out, persecuted, and threatened?
– Vilma Almendra, member of the Tejido de Comunicacin

As friends of the Tejido, we are mobilizing our support to show that they are not alone and that we share their vision for another possible and necessary world.

On July 1 2009, Latino Soy (FM96.1 in Vancouver) began a summer-long radio campaign to raise funds for the Tejido de Comunicacin. They have been in direct contact with Radio Pa’Yumat, collecting donations, broadcasting interviews and informing Vancouver’s Spanish-speaking community about the situation in Cauca and the importance of communication in popular resistance struggles in the Americas.

Please join us in Vancouver for the following events, where you can learn more about the situation in Colombia (and its relation to Canada), support the work of the Tejido, and have a good time while you’re at it!

Mark your calendars!

Salsa en Minga
A salsa party in support of the indigenous Communications Network in Northern Cauca, Colombia
With genuine hard-hitting salsa music by DJ La Salsmana
FREE Salsa lesson with Ramses (8:30-9:30pm)

Saturday July 25 2009
Doors: 8pm
Venue: Cambrian Hall
Address: 215 E 17th Avenue (Main Street & 17th Ave)
Cost: $10
Snacks and locally-produced alcoholic beverages will be available.
We will also be selling copies of ‘Country of the Peoples without Owners’

Tickets available at the door, or at the following locations:
Panaderia Latina Bakery: 4906 Joyce Street, Vancouver
Los Guerreros Latin Food Products: 3317 Kingsway, Vancouver
Info: 604.607.4814 or 604.338.0806
Presented by La Chiva and Grupo Atarraya. Sponsored by Latino Soy 96.1FM

Film Screening and Celebration:
Country of the Peoples without Owners
A screening of the documentary (Spanish w/ English subtitles) created by the Tejido de Comunicacin about the process of the Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria
This documentary has been warmly received by audiences across Colombia, up and down the West Coast of North America, in Eastern Canada and, more recently, to hundreds in New York.
With music by DJ La Salsmana

Saturday August 1 2009
7:30pm
Venue: Rhizome Cafe
Address: 317 Broadway East, Vancouver, (near Broadway and Kingsway)
Cost: $5 – $10 Sliding Scale (No one will be turned away).
Come early for dinner and drinks!
Copies of the documentary will also be for sale.

Presented by La Chiva and Grupo Atarraya with the generous support of Rhizome Cafe and Latino Soy 96.1FM.
For more information about the above events, please check out the Canada-Colombia Project blog: http://www.canadacolombiaproject.blogspot.com

One of the leaders of the KPD (Citizens for National Democracy) youth organization YND (youth for National Democracy) Archie Bathan has been arrested/abducted in the province of Bataan by a military unit.

This is a serous issue as many union and civil rights organizers are murdered or disappeared every year in the Philippines. The Philippines is the second most dangerous country in the world to be a union organizer after Colombia.

These people struggling for their human rights need your help!

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Two Events in Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory, June 7th and 8th.
Featuring: Mohammed Khatib of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, Bil’in, Occupied Palestine, Emily Schaeffer an Israeli lawyer representing the village of Bil’in and local speakers!

Sunday, June 7th – panel discussion with Carol Martin: Nisga, Gitnyow, Native 2010 Resistance. 6pm-8pm, Room 1700, SFU Harbour Centre, Simon Fraser University, 515 West Hastings Suggested donation $10-$25. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Monday, June 8th – lecture: 7pm 9pm, reception: 9pm 10pm with Carol Martin: Nisga, Gitnyow, Native 2010 Resistance. Vancouver Unitarian Church, 949 West 49th Avenue Suggested donation: $10-$25. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Childcare available on-site.

All monies fundraised will go directly towards covering tour costs and Bil’in’s legal fees.

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from the Spring issue of Think Public!

In October 2008, Amelia Marasa, a PSAC/CIU member and Crystal Graber a PSAC/CEIU member, attended the 3rd Americas Social Forum in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The tour was organized by Co-Development Canada. Crystal and Amelias participation was sponsored by the PSAC Social Justice Fund and the BC Regional Council. The following is a report on their tour.

From October 7 to 12, 2008, the participants at the 3rd Americas Social Forum (ASF) proved that another America is possible. The forum, which was held in Guatemala City, aimed to analyze, to share information and propose ideas for how Latin America might stand up against the damages that globalization is causing to countries in the Global South. In Guatemala, two per cent of the population owns over 96 per cent of the land, while 48 per cent of the population is illiterate and lives in poverty.

People from all over the Americas participated in an open discussion about the all-too-common social problems facing Latin American countries. For decades right wing governments have allowed multinational corporations to make huge profits from the fruits, products and resources of the Mother Land (Mama Pacha, as the Mayans call Earth), without any consideration for the local people, communities, and environment.

The indigenous people of America are changing this. By participating in forums such as ASF and getting active in their local governments and at national levels, they are standing up for themselves and demanding changes. This is not just for their communities, but for the continent and for the rest of the world.

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“Rites for Humanity:An Evening of Solidarity for Human Rights and Dignity” Cultural Evening

  • Saturday, December 13, 2008
  • 7:00 pm
  • Rhizome Cafe, 317 East Broadway, Vancouver
  • $5-$20 sliding scale donation at the door.

Please join the B.C. Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (BCCHRP) in celebrating International Human Rights Day!

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly’s adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

On the 60th anniversary of the declaration, people all over the world continue to struggle for genuine human rights, equality and peace.

In the Philippines, the people continue to struggle. Since President Macapagal Arroyo took power in 2001, the Filipino people have been the victims of Arroyo’s localized ‘war on terror’. According to reports, Arroyo has committed gross and systematic violations of human rights with 910 victims of extrajudicial killings, 195 victims of enforced disappearances, hundreds illegally arrested and sent to prison, tortured and harassed and has caused the displacement and forced evacuations of millions of Filipinos. In the midst of this political repression, attacks on the people’s right to security and livelihood continue. The Philippines external debt has ballooned to US$60 billion and the cost of rice shot up sharp inflation of rice from 2.6 % to 6.4% within a year.

Despite the repression and economic hardships, the Filipino people continue to resist — not only against tyranny, but also for their genuine human rights, freedom, and development.

Peace and freedom-loving people the world over have pushed the struggle for human rights forward.

Because of this spirit of resistance, there is cause to come together and celebrate.

For more information please contact BCCHRP 604-215-1103 or bcchrp@kalayaancentre.net

America Social Forum, October 7-12, 2008 in Guatemala.

Are you interested and active in international solidarity and social justice issues? The PSAC B.C., with the help of the PSAC Social Justice Fund, has recently been given the opportunity to sponsor a member as part of CoDevelopment Canada’s delegation to the 3rd America Social Forum in Guatemala. The trip will take place from October 6-14, 2008.

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While Labour Day is a time to celebrate labour and our role in building a better world, it also provides us the opportunity to strategize and plan for upcoming challenges. All across the country we must be prepared to mobilize in support of collective bargaining, and, in the face of a looming federal election, to get our message out about the importance of defending quality public services for all Canadians.

It is also appropriate on this day to pay tribute to the many victories of organized labour in the struggle for workers rights, better pay and safer jobs. We must be ever vigilant in protecting our hard-won gains and our right to free collective bargaining.

Thinking about our role in building a better world, we must also defend the rights of our brothers and sisters who risk their lives daily fighting for the rights of labour in countries where to be a trade unionist may mark one for violence or murder.

In July, I joined the leaders of Canadas largest public sector unions and undertook a fact-finding mission to Colombia to examine: human and labour rights, the privatization of public services, working conditions, the impact of free trade and the absence of labour and human rights guarantees. Meeting with union leaders, indigenous groups, politicians, diplomats, and human rights groups, we were able examine first-hand the problems that afflict Colombia, especially given the current government’s human rights record and the concerns about the recent free trade agreement with Canada.

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Four of Canadas top public sector union leaders, including PSAC National President John Gordon, recently visited Colombia to learn directly about the potential impact of a Canada-Colombia free trade deal on Colombian workers and their families. Here is a report.

We visited Colombia from July 18-25 on behalf of one million Canadian public sector workers. Our mission, among other tasks, was to see for ourselves whether our opposition to the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement was justified. What we saw and learned confirmed that we are right to oppose this deal and to speak out against it on behalf of Colombian workers and their families.

We met with many sectors of Colombian society, including the Colombian Minister of the Interior and government officials, the Canadian ambassador and embassy officials, leaders of the United Central of Workers (CUT) and trade unionists at all levels, members of the opposition Polo Democratico Alternativo, several non-governmental organizations, groups representing indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples as well as media reporters and ordinary citizens.

We visited the poorest of the poor families displaced from their homes by paramilitary groups to benefit transnational companies wanting to expand agriculture production, mining and other business interests. We were told that more than 4 million people, 10 per cent of the population, have been displaced without reparations.

Continue reading at rabble.ca

via nupge.ca

Labour leaders undertaking week-long tour of South American country

Bogata (23 July 2008) – Four of Canada’s top public sector union leaders arrived at Bogota airport on July 18 to begin a week-long labour tour and learn directly about the potential impact of a Canada-Colombia free trade deal on Colombian workers and their families.

They were greeted by members of the Sindicato de Trabajadores Postales de Colombia (STPC – Union of Postal Workers) and the Association of Public Employees of the Human Rights Ombudsman (ASDEP), among other labour groups.

The Canadian delegation includes George Heyman, international vice-president of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), John Gordon, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and Denis Lemelin, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

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The Filipino community in Canada and Canadians grieve and sympathize with the victims of supertyphoon Fengshen (Frank) that swept the Philippines over the weekend. We urgently appeal for financial support to help the relief efforts.

According to official reports, nearly 1000 people are confirmed dead, including those dead or missing from a ferry that sank in central Philippines. Over 35, 500 families had to be evacuated from their homes due to the rapid flooding and landslide risks. The hardest hit areas are Iloilo, Romblon, Cotabato, Antique, and Capiz.

In these times of natural disasters, the majority of victims are the poverty-stricken population. The majority of the people are already faced with economic crisis, such as the food crisis, the typhoon adds further suffering to the Filipino people. Already pushed in the margins of government priorities, the needy and poor populations are further left in extreme vulnerability and danger in times of natural and man-made calamities.

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