Trade Unions of the Americas stand with Maduro

Venezuelans march in support of President Maduro – The Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) also stand with the elected government

THE TRADE Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), which represents more than 55 million workers on the continent, expresses the following in respect of the new threats and imminent conflict in Venezuela:

‘We condemn the unilateral decision by a group of governments of the region, notoriously led by the USA, to ignore the legitimacy of the government of President Maduro and to recognise the self-proclaimed “president of the transition”, representative Juan Guaidó, president of the National Assembly, who seized such investiture without the recognition of the other branches of government, violating the national constitution and usurping powers.

‘The support of this group of conservative governments and of the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, as well as their attempt to impose this support internationally, is a grave act of interference and intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, setting back the region to times we thought belonged to the past, in which coups d’état and military dictatorships were stimulated.

‘Such an approach may lead to new acts of violence in Venezuela and submerge the entire region in a conflict with unpredictable negative consequences.

‘We call on the responsibility of the governments and democratic institutions of the region and the world to avoid deepening the critical scenario of political, economic and social deterioration that Venezuela is experiencing.

‘Both the government and the democratic opposition urgently need to relinquish their attitude of confrontation and embark on a path of effective dialogue and understanding, with the support of the international community.

‘We support the UN call for all relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible political negotiations to address the challenges that the country is facing.

‘The TUCA is willing to join these efforts and summons the international trade union movement to provide their solidarity to the quest for a solution based on peace, democracy and sovereignty, in favour of wellbeing and respect for the rights of the Venezuelan people.

‘– Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA)’

  • Meanwhile in Canada a  temporary court order has averted a strike of New Brunswick nursing home workers that was set to begin on Sunday.

The order, issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench on Saturday, will stop the approximately 4,100 nursing home workers at 45 of the province’s 46 nursing homes from heading to the picket lines for 10 days.

The only centre exempt from the order is the York Care Centre in Fredericton, N.B. They are a test facility and fall under different legislation than the other care homes.

Patrick Roy, the New Brunswick coordinator for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says the government made a ‘major, major mistake this weekend’ by getting the order.

‘It’s going to be very interesting labour relations going forward in nursing homes,’ he said at a press conference, responding to the court order.

The province’s Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard, says that although she supports the collective bargaining process, the health and safety of nursing home residents is her ‘primary concern’.

‘The order provides some peace of mind for residents and families and provides time for the parties to get back to the negotiating table,’ said Shephard in a release.

The nursing home workers, who are represented by CUPE along with the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions (NBCNHU), have been without a contract for 28 months.

Sharon Teare, president of NBCNHU, said at a press conference on Sunday that the temporary stay is ‘unethical’ and prevents their workers from their legal right to strike.

The workers, along with the employers represented by the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes (NBANH), have had trouble finding common ground when it comes to wages and staffing concerns.

The association says they have presented a collective agreement similar to that of hospital workers, ensuring wage parity between the two sectors.

New Brunswick has recently applied for a judicial review of the Labour and Employment Board’s December 2018 decision which found parts of the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act unconstitutional.

The act declared nursing home workers to be an essential service.

Shephard maintains that the government believes nursing home workers should be designated as an essential service.

‘This is about the health and safety of residents and not the right of employees to strike. That is why the government took the action it did this week,’ Shephard said.

‘Both sides are set to head back to the bargaining table on Monday at 11am.’

The union says its members have more questions than answers, including where the government funding ended up, was it ever even applied for, and why they haven’t received it.

The owner of Wisdom Manor, a specialised nursing home in Campbellton, has not passed on a provincial subsidised pay increase, alleges an executive of a provincial union.

‘We’re here to call out the owner of a special care home who refuses to pay along publicly-funded wage subsidies,’ says Daniel Légère, president of CUPE New Brunswick.

‘I am at a complete loss as to why this employer is holding out money that is available to him for his staff,’ says Légère.

It works out to a $1-an-hour increase. In April 2018, the province’s social development department doled out $12 million for special-care homes to help pay for wage increases and other employee benefits.

All the public funds have been disbursed to the 12 homes CUPE represents.

‘All but this one complied with CUPE’s requests that it be paid and that it be paid before Christmas retroactively. For some reason, this one employer hasn’t even acknowledged any of my correspondence,’ Légère says.

The union says its members have more questions than answers, including where the government funding ended up, was it ever even applied for, and why they haven’t received it.

Marc Carriere, the owner of Wisdom Manor, declined a request for a formal interview but over the phone said he’s met with the union.

Carriere said he gives his 25 employees a yearly raise but wouldn’t expand on whether he received provincial money.

The union formed less than a year ago and has yet to put together a collective agreement.

‘They’re not asking for anything that’s not expected. It was already promised by the department to provide said monies to the members and I think it’s only fair for them to get what was promised,’ said Andrew Woodcock, the national servicing representative for Dalhousie.

CUPE is meeting with the provincial minister responsible for social development later this month and says until then, they’ll continue to ‘pressure’ the employer until its members are paid what they’re owed.