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Quebec unions join alter-globalization activists in denouncing CETA

The Secrétariat intersyndical des services publics (SISP) and the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) have joined the Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale (RQIC) to denounce the secrecy and lack of consultation in Quebec on the CETA negotiations. The organizations held a joint press conference in Montreal on Monday as EU and provincial CETA negotiators converged in Ottawa for a seventh round of talks.

“We deplore that civil society and the labour movement have been excluded from important decisions related to the negotiations. Also, there is no means in place to force the federal government to consult publicly on the terms of the agreement. But the future of our public services are at stake,” said Gilles Dussault of the SISP (my translation).

The SISP brings together five public sector unions representing 330,000 workers in Quebec. They announced on Monday they are concerned about the procurement chapter proposed in CETA, which would ban “buy local” policies, or perhaps sustainable and ethical purchasing strategies. The unions are also concerned that placement agencies will be able to recruit foreign hospital workers into Quebec hospitals at lower wages than local workers expect. CETA would be a “blow to a number of local companies that contribute to regional development,” said Dussault (my translation).

Finally, the two organizations — SISP and CSQ, with its additional 180,000 members — said they are worried that CETA will contain an investor-state dispute process as exists in NAFTA and Canada’s other bilateral free trade agreements. Also, it’s clear, they say, the deal will have consequences for labour rights and legislation.

To read the release, click here.

RQIC held a public event on CETA in Montreal Monday night, and the network has produced an excellent report on CETA (in French), which doubles as a call to action and is available on their website.