Privatization bad business, says union

By Kassidy Christensen

March 23, 2017 12:00 AM

From left, Kim Wilson, president of COPE Local 397, Shelley Boutin-Gervais, president of UNIFOR 2-S, and Rhonda Derby, union representative for COPE Local 397, spoke during a Town Hall meeting Wednesday at the Days Inn Hotel Lloydminster to discuss the changes to Bill 40. KASSIDY CHRISTENSEN LLS PHOTO

The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 397 held a town hall meeting March 15 at the Days Hotel & Suites Lloydminster to address Bill 40, which is being put forward by the Government of Saskatchewan.
A press release from COPE Local 397 stated, “Bill 40 opens the door to a sell off (of) our Crown corporations to private interests, a massive privatization.”
Kim Wilson, president of COPE Local 397, along with Shelley Boutin-Gervais, president of UNIFOR Local 2-S, and Rhonda Derby, union representative with COPE Local 397, visited the Border City to discuss Bill 40 with about a dozen attendees. 
“We don’t want our Crown corporations privatized,” Wilson said.
“The dividends that come back in to the province go back into the hands of the people of Saskatchewan. We want to make sure we have the money there for our roads and our health care.”
The Bill, an Act to amend the Interpretation Act, 1995, which passed first reading Oct. 26, 2016, would define “privatize” to mean, with respect to a Crown corporation, the transfer to the private sector of all or substantially all of the assets of the Crown corporation, the controlling interest of the Crown or the operational control of the Crown corporation through one or more transactions that use one or more of the following methods:
A public share offering, management or employee buyout of the Crown, among others stated in the Bill, but does not include a winding-up and dissolution of the Crown corporation or other restructuring of the Crown corporation.
“(Bill 40) would allow the government to wind down, dissolve or sell-off up to 49 per cent of shares in our Crown corporations,” the union said in the release.
Wilson stated if the Bill is passed, “There (are) no referendums so the people of Saskatchewan have no say in it.”
“We realized the consequences of it to the people of Saskatchewan and we realized that not only do we need to educate our members, but we need to educate the people of Saskatchewan,” she said.
COPE has been travelling throughout Saskatchewan to anywhere SGI has a branch, working in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and their Own It! campaign (ownyoursask.ca), Wilson said, and other unions over the past couple of months.
Wilson said they’ve been speaking with members prior to opening up the town hall to the public.
Despite the turnout in Lloydminster being, “one of their smaller groups,” Wilson said the people who attended understood what’s going on.
“It doesn’t matter how many people are there, the important thing is that everyone there that attends the meetings is educated and can take that information back and share it,” Wilson said.
With Lloydminster being one of the later stops, and visited Meadow Lake and North Battleford prior to reaching the Border City, Wilson said the meetings have been excellent and are receiving good crowds everywhere.
One of their stops was a rally in front of the Legislative Building in Regina March 8, to which Wilson explained they “had people coming up to us, and it wasn’t unionized workers, it wasn’t public sector employees.”
“It was just people of the public coming up to us and saying ‘hey (we) were at your town hall, we agree with what you say, we’re here to show our support and our solidarity for you,’” she said.
Wilson said they are “seeing good evidence that people of Saskatchewan realize that this has to stop.”
“We will not stop until we stop Bill 40, until we stop the cutbacks, the rollbacks, the fight goes on, we need to continue,” Wilson said.

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