Nfld. & Labrador

Labour groups rally against cuts, privatization at Confederation Building

Labour groups will stage a rally at Confederation Building Tuesday to protest measures introduced in the recent budget.
Labour groups held a rally at Confederation Building to protest cuts to the public sector and privatization of services. 2:45

Labour groups held a rally at Confederation Building Tuesday afternoon to protest measures introduced in last week's budget, including public sector cuts and privatization of services.

And they weren't quiet about it.

Along with chants and speeches from union leadership and opposition was a musical soundtrack, including the likes of Twisted Sister, Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy.
Several unions came together Tuesday to denounce the PC budget during a rally at Confederation Building. (David Cochrane/CBC)

"Our public sector is not for sale," Mary Shortall, president of the Federation of Labour, said to a cheering crowd. "Our public services are not for sale."

The governing Tories will eliminate more than 1,400 public service jobs over the next five years, largely through attrition.

As well, in a pre-budget announcement, government said it will collaborate with private and non-profit partners to open 360 long-term beds around the province.

Unions have taken sharp aim against both moves, with incoming NAPE president Jerry Earle vowing a labour fight over what he called a "privatization agenda." 

"​Let me tell this government, and any future government, public services are not for sale and we will fight you tooth and nail," Earle said to a chanting crowd.

Earle said the provincial government didn't bother to consult with frontline workers before deciding to cut jobs and privatize long-term care.

'Settled in an election campaign'

Amid chants for an NDP government, Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce vowed that if his caucus was elected in, there would be no privatization of health care services. 

"Together we can make a difference," Joyce urged the crowd.

About 200 union activists denounced the latest PC budget on Tuesday during a rally at Confederation Building. (CBC )

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy was met with cheers as he reached the podium and proceeded to slam the Tory government's financial record.

"When there was smoke coming out of West Block yesterday, does that mean we're getting a new premier?" McCurdy joked, comparing Monday's fire at Confederation Building to the process of selecting a new pope.

"A government in its dying days has no business implementing that kind of change without going to the people first."

McCurdy vowed his party will not privatize any services if it's voted to government in the upcoming provincial election.

He added the issues raised in last Thursday's budget can be "settled in an election campaign."