Jean-Claude Parrot: My response to Three MP's Statements on CUPW

In a statement made by Tory MP Mark Adler he said that a CUPW newsletter was radical propaganda. He was supported by two other MP'S, Steven Fletcher and Bob Rae. The statement also claims that CUPW use of public funds for the trip of Ruth Breen of the Atlantic region to Palestine. 

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Jean-Claude Parrot is a former National President of CUPW (1977-1992) and a former Executive Vice-President of the CLC (1992-2002). He was also a member of the governing body of the ILO (1993-2002). He is retired since 2002 and wrote the book “My Union, My Life” which was published in 2005.


by Jean-Claude Parrot

First, CUPW has no access to public funds. The trip was paid by a regional fund made up of contributions from the CUPW locals of the Atlantic region and voluntary contributions by individual postal workers. It would never come in my mind to refrain people to take this kind of action for a cause they have at heart. Quite to the contrary, it is nice to see people who care about others.

The CUPW has negotiated a National Fund as part of the settlement in the last round of negotiations. The fund allows the CUPW to maintain relationship with workers in the rest of the world and show solidarity when they face violation of their human rights, including workers rights or simply to discuss issues that affect workers around the world. The fund is restricted to be used to “developing and maintaining relationships and exchanges with postal workers from other countries and their unions”. This is not a public fund.

CUPW negotiated this fund the first time many years ago and the amount could have been placed in other benefits for postal workers but with the support of the members it was agreed to have such a fund. I am sure that you know we are not the first Union to have negotiated a similar fund with its employer.

Now on the issue of the bulletin, I thought we were in a country where we have the freedom of speech. I have no doubt that CUPW will not accept to be censured by these MP’S who, because of their political position on Israel, are willing to ignore the violation of human rights of women workers in Palestine.

I have no doubt that CUPW would show the same solidarity with workers in Israel if they were to be denied their right to negotiate or see a violation of their human rights. The contact with workers and their unions in other countries is also ensuring a better knowledge of the situation of workers around the world.

Our contacts with Unions and workers in the rest of the world made us understand that the investments of multinationals in their countries contribute to the exploitation of over 250 million children around the world and to the exploitation of women and children in export processing zone where they are not covered by the laws of the country in the field of safety, child labour, minimum wage and many others; leaving them at the mercy of these multinationals and their sub contractors.

These violations of international conventions were already denounced by the International Labour Organization (ILO) a tripartite organization of governments, employers and workers from over 170 countries.

All these violations are in countries that are told that this is necessary in order to be more competitive. We know that despite these MP’s trips around the world we cannot count on you three to expose these situations especially at a time where we are being told all the time that we should be more competitive.

My question is: who are we competing against? How can we compete against children, working long hours with very little pay, without offering the same exploitation of our children? How can we compete with workers in export processing zone who have no right to negotiate; no protection or safety at work; no right to have a union to represent their grievances without offering investors similar zones in Canada?

So I am just asking that you cease your attack on CUPW solidarity with other workers in the rest of the world; especially that for you, it is just another way to stop our workers to know the situation of these workers around the world. In fact, our government should be ashamed of trying to bring Canadian workers into the same conditions of these workers.

The attacks on the labour movement in Canada will never hide the fact that it is the present government who eliminates the decent jobs in this country in favour of indecent profits. The so called plan of action to make us more competitive which is the subject of a publicity campaign on television and other media which cost millions of dollars paid by the Canadians is something to be ashamed of.

The attacks on the Public Sector Unions across this country is to achieve the ideology of small governments leaving to these multinationals and their subcontractors the profitable parts of the services leaving the rest to the taxpayers in this country. The revenue of some services can be used to provide the services that do not provide revenues.

The attacks of the seasonal workers; the attacks on people who received help from governments; the attacks on unionized workers; the attacks on the members of first nation communities; the attacks on environmentalists; the attacks against students who dare demonstrating; and much more, are simply an attempt to distract Canadians from the fact that the present federal government is violating international conventions and resolutions to the benefits of the shareholders of multinationals.

These shareholders were well represented by Stephen Harper when he was the spokesperson of the National Citizen Coalition which board was composed of these shareholders who too often are not even paying income taxes. He was taking the same stands for them at the time that he is taking today.

It was demonstrated in the nineties that the debt in Canada was caused at 92% by both equally, the high interest rates and the tax exemptions. So, all this to say to the three of you, so called offended by CUPW, that you should look into what role you are playing to make it a better world for those you are supposed to represent and for those who are exploited around the world by these multinationals and their subcontractors.

I will always put in priority: ‘‘decent jobs not indecent profits’’.