The PSAC and many other unions and social justice organizations are currently facing many challenges that are undermining labour rights, human rights and democracy. While austerity measures are provoking protests and resistance like never before, our movements continue to be fragmented, each fighting their own battles.
Moreover, the legislative attacks by the Harper government are having a significant impact on our union’s ability to organize, mobilize, strike and defend our members’ rights in the workplace. Meanwhile, the downsizing of the public service, cuts and constraints on public and social programs continue to exacerbate social disparity and have a profound long-term impact in our communities.
The goal of the Peoples’ Social Forum is to build a united and cohesive front against the Conservative corporate agenda, austerity and privatization. The PSF seeks to stimulate practical involvement and the development of networks and strategies aimed at fostering the convergence of struggles to build a broad alliance against neo-liberal policies in Canada with labour rights, social justice, human rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy as its main focus.
You can get more information on the Peoples’ Social Forum from its website.
Here is what we know is happening:
- August 21st March on Parliament Hill:
Caravans are coming from across the country to meet up for the opening gathering on the afternoon of August 21 on Victoria Island, which will be followed by a march and rally on Parliament Hill where the PSAC and other public sector unions will highlight the need to protect public services as a key demand in order to protect the basic democratic rights of workers and the services that are important to all Canadians. The NBoD committed to getting as many members out to the march as possible.
- Two days of Workshops:
Two days of 1.5-hour workshops will take place at the University of Ottawa, and surrounding venues on several broad social and political themes. While many unions are working on several workshops of their own, the PSAC is contributing three based on the themes that are significant for our union: austerity measures and cuts, public services, and work. Specifically, the three workshops are:
- Defending public services;
- The impact of public service cuts on our communities andworkplaces (including equity groups); and
- Defending union rights: bargaining, the right to strike, organizing and automatic dues check off.
There will be other simultaneous workshops on other themes such as climate, immigrant workers, governance and democracy, gender, etc., and the organizers estimate there will more than 300 workshops in total.
- Convergent Assemblies:
Following the workshops, there will be a day of “convergent assemblies” that will bring together labour and community organizations to develop a common position for action on the key themes. The PSAC along with other public sector unions are working to build a convergent assembly on the issue of austerity and public services.
These convergent assemblies will bring different political and organizational forces together to develop a strategy to defend public services and collective bargaining rights in the public sector.
The Peoples’ Social Forum includes caucuses for organized labour, Indigenous people, Quebec, racialized persons, people with disabilities and women.
- Expansion Commissions:
Expansion Commissions have been established in Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver and others are under construction. See the website for more information on these expansion commissions.