For a week now, Montreal has been boiling with rage. The unprovoked
murder of 18-year-old Freddy Villanueva, by agents of the Montreal
Police Service, catalyzed an explosion that has been building for
years. Police attacks on peaceful demonstrators sparked a riot.
Workers in British
Columbia have seen their pulp, paper, and lumber mills
closing at an alarming rate, leaving thousands jobless and facing an uncertain
future. Whole communities have been devastated as large forestry companies such
as Interfor and Canfor pull out operations and ship jobs overseas where labour
Two weeks after a new contract in which GM bosses promised no more
layoffs and no more plant closures until 2011, in exchange for a wage freeze
and other concessions, they have now announced closure! The profit motive is
stronger than any rotten deal the union tops can broker with the bosses and
they are prepared to break the law to do so. Workers will be drawing some
bitter lessons from this experience.
Yesterday, the Canadian
Auto Workers local 222 held a solidarity rally outside the gates of the Oshawa
GM truck plant. There was a real sense of anger amongst the workers present,
most of whom were from union families, but this was not the normal crowd that
attends demonstrations. These are people who either directly or indirectly will
be hit hard by the lay offs.
The mood of the workers was
very militant and it is quite clear that they are willing to remain on the
picket lines for as long as it takes to win. Terry McDonald, a member of the
Oshawa Local's bargaining committee, told Fightback, "We're right.
We're going to stay as long as it takes for them to realise that."
The closure of the GM's Oshawa plant announced on June 3rd,
with the loss of 2600 jobs, is a slap in the face to auto workers everywhere.
The reaction of the workers has been a militant one. Canadian Auto Workers
activists blockaded GM headquarters in Oshawa,
refusing to let managers in until they sit down and talk with union leaders. At
the time of writing, the blockade is still up.