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Large rally in support of Halifax Water workers at City Hall

by Robert Devet

A crowd of about 250 rallied at City Hall in support of the Halifax Water workers who are in legal strike or lockout position. Photo Robert Devet
The two presidents. Heather Corkum, CUPE local 1431, and Dave Dort, CUPE Local 227. Photo Robert Devet
"This isn't the first pension fight we're in, and we won a good many in this country." Danny Cavanagh, president of CUPE Nova Scotia. Photo Robert Devet
"If the Harper government would actually provide proper infrastructure funding then we wouldn't be looking  at hard working water workers to lower wages and cut pensions so that structural upgrades can happen." Angela Giles, Council of Canadians.  Photo Robert Devet
"It is three short years ago that we stood where you stand today, and you stood behind us. Whatever you need, whenever you need us, just call on ATU 508 and we will support you any way we can."  Ken Wilson, president, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508. Photo Robert Devet
"After 32 years of holding on to that pension it is paying off for me."  Dave Corbin, former president of CUPE Local 227. Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet
Shay Enxuga, Solidarity Halifax.  Photo Robert Devet
"Woof". Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) - About 250 people rallied at City Hall in Halifax yesterday in support of the Halifax Water workers who are in a fight with their employer over wages and pensions. A strike or lockout can occur at any time.

The 335 Halifax Water workers, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees locals 1431 and 227, are especially upset about deep cuts to their pension plan proposed by the utility's senior management.

Union leaders were clearly energized by the large turnout of workers and supporters.

“It is very overwhelming to come down and see everybody here to support us,” Heather Corkum, president of Local 1431, told the crowd.

“Halifax Water will spread lies,” she warned.

“They will say that our pension is not sustainable. We have shown that with our plan it is sustainable. We will only go back to the bargaining table when (management) comes back with a different proposal.”

Danny Cavanagh, president of CUPE Nova Scotia, had a bit of advice for the embattled workers.

“There will be all knds of crap from the employer,” Cavanagh warned “Don't pay any attention to the crap. Stay with your union, stand strong and we will win this fight, just like we won fights across this country.”

Support for the Halifax Water workers comes from a broad spectrum of unions and community organizations.

People addressed the crowd on behalf of the the Halifax Dartmouth and District Labour Council, SEIU Local 2, the Council Of Canadians, the Amalgamated Transit Workers, Solidarity Halifax, the Canadian Labour Congress, and the UNIFOR shipyard workers, who are fighting their own battles with Irving.

Dave Corbin, a former president of CUPE Local 227, now enjoying retirement, had this to say.

“A pension is the most important thing you will have in your whole life,” said Corbin. “After 32 years of working in that place and holding on to that pension I am able to do what I want, and support my family in a real nice way.”

That is exactly what the fight is all about, Dave Dort, president of CUPE Local 227, told the Halifax Media Co-op.

“My expectation as an employee is that after 25 years I would look at a pension of about 60 percent of my wages,”said Dort. “Management's proposal would bring that down to 28 percent. And that is not acceptable.”

Dort points out that Halifax Water management received a big raise, right after the the Utility and Review Board approved a water rate increase of 12 percent over two years.

And he feels that the message coming from the utility is not accurate.

“At this time (Halifax Water) is all set on their proposal, although we have been able to show them that our proposals will keep it healthy plan.”

“There seems to be something else going on, we just don't know what it is...”

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter  @DevetRobert



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Topics: Labour
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