Taking stock of success: Hassan Yussuff

An ovation from convention floor greeted Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff as he took the podium on the first day of the CLC convention in Toronto.

In his address, Yussuff laid out the accomplishments of Canada’s labour movement in the last three years and announced two new affiliates to the CLC, bringing the number of unions represented in the CLC family to 56, with 3.3 million workers across Canada represented by the CLC.

Yussuff talked about some of the many victories being celebrated by Canada’s unions, including winning increases to the Canada Pension Plan, a federal ban on asbestos, and a commitment from the federal government that it will do more to ensure enforcement of the Westray Law, provisions in the Criminal Code allowing for the criminal prosecution of employers whose negligence puts workers at risk.

There have been notable political changes since the last CLC convention, which was held just before a landmark Ontario election and while Stephen Harper was tearing apart the public service and attacking unions by breaking strikes.

“He tried to eliminate card check from the Canada Labour Code, a provision that had stood for 70 years of time! And with Bill-377, he was determined to single out trade unions for financial disclosures, which was intended to cripple our ability to organize and do our political work,” he reminded the crowd.

“Well, Sisters and Brothers, we did not stand idly by. We kicked his right-wing ass out of office. We did defeat the conservatives,” he added, drawing cheers from the crowd.

He spoke about recent Supreme Court decisions that strengthen trade union rights. He celebrated the decision that places the right to freedom of association, right to organize and bargain collectively, and to go on strike is a fundamental right in our Constitution. The CLC also intervened to ensure a non-unionized worker should not be treated differently than a unionized worker.

He emphasized the strength of Canada’s labour movement and the need to keep that strength and momentum going, and recognized former CLC President Bob White’s legacy.

“We will leave this hall committed to: speaking out, advocating, and fighting for all workers in Canada whether they have a union or not. And we will show Canadians that no matter where you were born, what faith you hold, who you love, or what your race, gender or ability is, you can count on the Canadian labour movement to defend your human rights.”

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