Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A message from some Union friends in Argentina

I recently received the following e-mail from Don Dickson, a Shop Steward and the Unit Chairperson from Point Lepreau:

"Ross -- A message from our Argentina friends, who visited in the fall 2007, and looked into our JHSC structure and safety culture. Good news… Argentina established a joint Commission of Health, Safety and Environment this past summer.

Consequently, nuclear workers under a Branch of the Union of Metallurgical have “improvement of our work conditions with the active participation and the exercise of our rights.” This message goes on to recognize and extend thanks to Canadian Union leadership for our cooperation.

We should be proud that we played a supporting role to help improve worker’s safety and rights for those less fortunate to live and work here!"

The rest of this story is that in late 2006 we were contacted by a representative of the Argentine Ministry of Labour, who wanted to facilitate dialogue between Canadian unions representing nuclear workers and the U.O.M. -- the metalworkers union in Argentina, which represents a large number of their nuclear workers. They were interested in the things we were doing in Health and Safety because they have a CANDU 6 nucler plant (the same model as Point Lepreau) in Argentina. Consequently, in 2007 six representatives of the UOM visited Ontario union leaders and then New Brunswick, where we had arranged avisit to AECL and Point Lepreau.

The union members of the U.O.M. were very impressed with our safety programs, both nuclear and conventional safety, and the way the IBEW and NB Power worked together on safety. They told me that they felt they were many years behind us when it came to the way that unions and employers could work together on safety, and they were going to use the examples they had seen here in Canada to push for better partnerships and safety programs at their workplaces in Argentina.

As a result, it was really heart warming to also receive an e-mail from one of their representatives, Javier Sanchez, who wrote to me to say:

"I do not want to stop standing out that the obtained objective of union and working leaders of the UOM was complemented with the great cooperation of the Canadian unions, and the contribution of knowledge and solidarity of its workers and leaders who received us so genteelly in our mission of study accomplished in the month of October 2007 to that great country.

From the Argentine Republic and in the name of the workers of CONUAR-FAE I send you a warm greeting."

It's great to be able to lend our experiences and share information with other working people around the world. It's also a good reminder that we should be proud of, and value, the gains we've achieved that others are still fighting for.

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