SGEU’s annual convention opened this year with a nod to the province’s Aboriginal and First Nations cultural identity and represented across the union’s membership with a greeting and prayer in Cree by elder, Barb Fraser.
President Bob Bymoen got the crowd of 250 delegates and staff fired up by highlighting SGEU’s extraordinary year of successes so far, including its Supreme Court victory.
“We gave something to everyone working here in Saskatchewan and across this country both now and as a legacy for the future,” says Bymoen. “When the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Saskatchewan’s draconian labour laws and ruled in favour of the province’s labour unions, we gave workers the right to strike, to be sure. But we gave them something even more valuable. We gave them dignity.”
Bymoen also introduced the new multi-union campaign called OWN IT!, designed to invite Saskatchewan people to learn more about privatization, share their views, sign a petition to stop the sell-off of public services and Crown corporations, and organize in their communities.
He encouraged delegates to take a strong stand in their home communities against the government’s plans to further privatize both liquor sales and all public assets.
Bymoen urged attendees to remember the toil and effort of the pioneers of the labour movement in Saskatchewan and to stand up for what’s right.
“Above all, my wish is that you are strengthened in your ability to know what is right and to know you are fully backed and supported in your own commitment to speak up. It takes one person to change the energy of a room, a workplace, a community. All of us working together for the rights and dignity of labour are unstoppable.”
The 28 SGEU members who have passed away were recognized with a pictorial tribute and a moment of silence. The union’s lifetime members were also introduced and honoured for their long careers dedicated to improving the working environments of government workers in this province.
Please read more on the lives of these extraordinary members and their life service here..
SGEU was proud to welcome keynote speaker, Nora Loreta, author of the book, From Demonized to Organized. Loreta was met with supportive applause when she urged unions that ‘the most radical action they can take is to build communities’ in a federal environment wherein the government is increasingly criminalizing collective action.
“Any structure that seeks to bring people together is a threat to Stephen Harper,” says Loreto who adds the only counteraction is to recommit to community.
The day unfolded with many resolutions and items of union business being decided upon in the democratic environment. A professional film crew was also on hand working with the communications team putting faces and voices on the work of SGEU members across the province.