May 5, 2014 - No. 52
Canadian Labour Congress 27th
Largest Convention Ever
Opens in Montreal
Montreal, May 5, 2014
• Largest Convention Ever Opens in Montreal
- Louis Lang
• Actions Across Canada
Canadian Labour Congress 27th
Largest Convention Ever Opens in Montreal
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) 27th
Constitutional Convention opened in Montreal this morning, May 5, and
runs through to May 9.
All indications are that this Convention will have the
delegate attendance ever in the CLC's history. Various affiliated
unions are mobilizing to use all the credentials entitled to them and
are sending significantly larger delegations than in the past.
This should not be
surprising since workers across the
been facing unprecedented attacks on their rights by corporations and
governments at all levels. With the Harper government at the head, the
most vicious legislation is being rammed through across the country to
deny workers' rights to proper
wages and livelihood and decent working conditions. Workers' struggles
for collective bargaining are being routinely criminalized and the
right to organize is also being targeted by some provincial governments
and the Harper Conservatives. Through temporary foreign worker
legislation, the most vulnerable immigrant
workers are made available for vicious exploitation by monopoly
corporations with the goal of destroying the rights of all Canadian
workers. It is also important to mention the fight being waged against
legislation undermining the right to receive unemployment benefits, as
well as the daily fight of injured workers
to compensation benefits.
These and many other examples of the anti-social
offensive of the
ruling classes create a very urgent problem that must be the greatest
priority for consideration by all organizations of the working class.
But what is most surprising is that the emergency
workers does not seem to be the main consideration of the CLC or some
of its affiliated unions in their preparations for the 2014 Convention.
The mad scramble to send the maximum number of delegates is being
driven by a crisis inside the CLC
National Executive. It has become evident that the national President
will be challenged on election day by the present Secretary-Treasurer.
Other unions have also recently declared their intention to run for one
of the two National Executive Vice-President positions.
Of course, elections for these positions take place at
each Convention but the difference this year is the open disintegration
factionalism in the national leadership and among some of the largest
This will make the work of the delegates very difficult.
tells us that many workers will be coming to the Convention seeking to
deal with all the serious problems they face in their areas. The most
important issue facing the vast majority of delegates is how to
organize to defend themselves from the
vicious anti-social offensive. The clear danger facing Convention
delegates is that the important issues of how workers can discuss their
problems and consider all possible solutions for fighting back will be
diverted by the election hysteria which is already underway.
In order to provide the workers with some positive
results from the
work of this Convention, delegates must insist on discussing the real
situation of Canadian workers as it is. They must fully discuss the
meaning of the main theme of the Convention which has also been the
basis of the campaign of the CLC
for the past two years -- "Together Fairness Works."
Does this campaign of the CLC for "fairness" help
advance the fight
against the anti-social offensive and does it help the workers put
forward their own independent pro-social program or does it deceive the
workers into accepting things as they are and limit their demands to
some complaints about how they
are being treated?
Before any elections take place this is the discussion
take place so that an independent path for the workers can be worked
May Day 2014
Actions Across Canada
Actions across Canada celebrated May Day 2014 in the
spirit of fighting unity and determination to stop the nation-wrecking
of the Harper government and governments at all levels and defeat the
austerity agendas being imposed on workers across the country.
More than 5,000 people took part in the evening
under the banner "Fight Back against Austerity Measures." May Day in
Quebec took place three weeks after the April 7 general election in
which the forces of the federal establishment manoeuvred to elect a
Liberal majority government.
These forces now claim that Quebeckers "rejected sovereignty" and
the economy" and that "economy" is equal to the austerity agenda. The
May Day action rejected this agenda and reflected the determination of
the workers to block it.
Leading the march was a
contingent of postal workers defending the public postal service
against the wrecking activities of the Harper government and Canada
Post executives. They were followed by the Radio-Canada workers
demanding a moratorium on the cutbacks ordered by the Harper
came contingents of Quebec public sector workers and workers from
manufacturing sectors; steelworkers, construction workers, pulp and
paper workers and workers from many small manufacturing plants in
Montreal. Students were there, as were community organizations that
defend the rights of the most vulnerable,
organizations demanding status for all and many others. The
Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) held high its banner calling
for a new direction for Quebec to be achieved by stopping governments
from paying the rich and increasing investments in social programs.
PMLQ activists distributed its May
Day statement, calling on
workers to defeat the phony neo-liberal austerity agenda and build the
pro-social alternative, which was well-received.
The demonstration was sober and militant, expressing the
determination of workers to fight the battles that lie ahead.
Demonstration by Anti-Capitalist Convergence Brutally Suppressed by
Montreal police brutally suppressed the May Day
demonstration organized in Montreal by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence.
It was another example of how the pretext of breach of city bylaws is
used to unleash police violence against demonstrators.
Only a few minutes after the demonstration began, the police
cornered the demonstrators and arrested 132 of them. They were
eventually given tickets for municipal bylaw violations and face fines
of up to $640,
while five were arrested on possible criminal charges of mischief and
assault on a police officer. Police violence was such that four of the
demonstrators required treatment in hospital.
More than 200 people marched to the Quebec National
to protest the government's austerity agenda. The action was
organized by the Coalition for Social Justice. Foremost in peoples'
minds was the Quebec Liberal majority government's upcoming budget and
it will implement further cuts to social programs and public services.
"There is no room to further cut public services," said an activist
the Coalition. Another participant said: "We know with the talk about
austerity they are going to put the burden on the poor and
vulnerable, those who can hardly make
a living now."
A representative of the Confederation of the National
Trade Unions (CSN) pledged that it will do all it can to defeat the
austerity agenda. "We are going to fight them this summer, this
fall and for many years to come. There is no way we are going to accept
this discourse," she said.
A militant May Day picket was held at the Commons in
Halifax, organized by the Omnibus Nova Scotia May Day committee.
Speakers included representatives of the Canadian Union of Postal
Workers, No Harbour for War, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist
Leninist) as well
as individuals. They spoke about the need to defeat Harper, and the
long and proud tradition of May Day as an international day of working
class solidarity and struggle.
More than 600 people marched through downtown Ottawa to
oppose cuts in public services and stand against austerity measures
being imposed by governments at all levels. Workers from many sectors,
such as transportation, federal and provincial public services,
education and the post office, along with First Nations' organizations,
student organizations and many community groups marched behind a banner
demanding "Stop the Cuts -- Solidarity Against Austerity."
As the demonstration wound its way through downtown
Ottawa, a contingent of about 100 public servants, teachers and
students from Gatineau, who had marched across the bridge from Quebec,
joined the march which headed past Parliament Hill to the Prime
In front of the PMO on Wellington Street speakers
representing students, public service workers, postal workers and First
Nations denounced the Harper Conservatives for their attacks on
workers and all working people across the country. Speakers highlighted
the ongoing attack on postal workers and the
elimination of door-to-door delivery for the vast major of Canadians in
favour of the privatization of a valuable public service for the
benefit of private postal monopolies. Other important issues were also
addressed including free tuition for post-secondary education, the need
for a significant increase in the minimum
wage and the environmental threats from the Energy East oil pipeline.
A group from the Algonquin First Nation drummed and sang
traditional songs to welcome the march taking place on their territory.
May Day in Toronto started with a noon hour picket
outside the Royal York Hotel where the CEO of Canada Post, Deepak
Chopra, was speaking to the Canadian Club on the "postal
transformation" through which they are wrecking the public post office.
picket was organized by the Canadian
Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) to defend the public post office. It was
attended by active and retired postal workers, and their allies,
including activists of CPC(M-L).
Members of CUPW Scarborough and Toronto locals
distributed a leaflet informing the public about the importance of the
fight that the postal workers are waging against the anti-social cuts
to the postal services across Canada and against the attack on wages,
working and living conditions of the postal workers
being carried out by the Harper government. In their leaflet they
pointed out that far from solving any of the postal service problems
Canadians face, turning over the public post office to private
will result in the destruction of tens of thousands of jobs,
services to many remote regions of Canada
and further cost increases.
Later in the afternoon, more than 1,000 people
participated in the Toronto May Day rally and march. The majority were
young people. Everyone came with their banners and their demands.
Workers, students, activists fighting for rights of immigrants and
refugees and those without immigration status, anti-poverty
activists, environmentalists and representatives from First Nations
joined in to affirm the rights of all. Placards and flyers demanded a
raise in the minimum wage to $14 and called for Status for All. Banners
supported the sovereign right of the Venezuelan people to determine
their own affairs and demanded the release
of the Cuban Five anti-terrorists. A contingent from CPC(M-L)
participated holding high the banner "Stop Paying the Rich, Increase
Funding for Social Programs" and distributing copies of the current
issue of Workers' Forum.
The rallying point of Allan Gardens was chosen because
its long history as a gathering place in many of the fights people have
waged -- against war; nuclear arms; state-organized racist and fascist
violence; the anti-social offensive -- including 25 years as the centre
for the anti-poverty rallies and
organizing of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
The short rally began with a traditional First Nations
opening and a speaker from Six Nations who reiterated that the
sovereignty of First Nations must be respected. A spokesperson from
OCAP explained that the area around Allan Gardens is one of the
poorest urban centres in Canada and that the
current Wynne government, despite their talk of caring for the poor,
has refused to raise either the minimum wage or social assistance
rates. This government chose today -- our day -- to introduce its
into the Legislature -- a budget that does not include the poor and
working people of this province the speaker
pointed out. This government is no different than the governments
before it -- nor do the other parties in the Legislature represent any
solution for the problems facing the poor, she said. The rally
concluded with a phone call of greetings to the rally from a detainee
at the immigration detention centre in Lindsay.
The rally was followed by a march to the Ontario
Legislature. An Aboriginal contingent led off the march, followed by a
giant two-row wampum representing the need for new nation-to-nation
relations with the aboriginal peoples. A banner declared "No One Is
Illegal." The march made several stops along the way,
for a round dance in the intersection of Yonge and College, and in
front of the Toronto Police Headquarters.
More than 250 workers participated in the May First
Hamilton which began with a rally at the Max Aicher North America
gates. Gary Howe, Vice-President of Local 1005 USW opened the rally and
introduced Bill Mahoney who recited his poem "Our Town." Tim
the Local 1005 Unit Chair for MANA thanked everyone on behalf of the
workers in this unit for recognizing their 10-month lockout by
starting the rally at the MANA gates. Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina
brought greetings on behalf of the city. Councillor Scott
of the Hamilton City Council Steel Committee,
spoke to the committee's concerns. Bill
Ferguson, President of Local 8782 USW brought greetings on behalf of
the Lake Erie workers who one year ago were fighting a phony lock out
by U.S. Steel.
Bratina (right) and City Councillor Scott Duvall at the May Day action
right: Local 1005 USW President Rolf Gerstenberger at the Wilcox Gates
of U.S. Steel.
The final speaker was Rolf Gerstenberger, President of
Local 1005 USW who said that on the occasion of May First "we
everyone to demand that governments must uphold public right, not
monopoly 'right'"; governments must provide the rights of workers,
seniors and youth with proper guarantees." He pointed out further that,
"Experience shows that
unless workers directly fight for a program that favours them,
things become worse."
The workers marched to the
U.S. Steel gates on Wilcox and
then through the east end of the city to Local 1005's Union Hall for a
Workers and youth in Kitchener celebrated May Day by
distributing copies of Workers' Forum
in the downtown core. They met
afterwards to discuss the significance of May 1, the tabling of the
Ontario budget and the possible upcoming provincial election. Two youth
that ran in the
last provincial election announced that they would again run in this
election and others enthusiastically agreed to work to support them.
They also decided to use the distribution of Workers' Forum on
Saturdays to renew the work to get subscriptions to Ontario Political
Close to 200 people from a broad cross-section of the
community participated in a spirited May Day in Windsor. Opening the
march, a member of the organizing committee explained that the theme of
"Rights" was chosen for this year's march to make clear that workers'
far from being
the problem holding back the economy, are the condition for its advance
and for a bright future for everyone.
The march was headed by a large contingent of postal
workers carrying the banner "Hands Off Our Public Post Office" which
set a militant tone for the entire march. It affirmed that public
services and the workers who provide them are assets not costs.
Teachers and education workers, health care workers, autoworkers,
city workers, high school, university and college students, retirees as
well as many community activists and their families took part in the
march and the Labour Village that followed.
Throughout the march the streets echoed with slogans:
"Whose Streets? Our Streets!"; "Who Makes Windsor Work? We Make Windsor
Work?"; "Whose Post Office? Our Post Office!"; "Whose Economy? Our
Economy!"; "Hands Off Our Public Post Office!" and "Solidarity Against
The march paused at one of the last remaining retail
outlets of Canada Post located in Windsor's downtown. Here Canadian
Union of Postal Workers Local 630 President Jeff Carroll spoke
denouncing the fraud that the Harper government is perpetuating by
presenting the post office as a liability, when
in fact it is a public asset. He thanked everyone for standing with the
postal workers, reiterating that this is everyone's fight.
The march ended in the parking lot of the Ontario
Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) District 9 office which
transformed into a Labour Village. Unions and community groups set up
tables and displays and cultural performances reflecting working class
culture from the past and present were presented
Performances included tributes to notable figures in the
working class fights for rights, a re-enactment of the Haymarket
massacre and trial by the local branch of the Industrial Workers of the
World, songs dedicated to the fight of teachers and education
workers performed by OSSTF members, spoken
word tributes to May Day by the youth, as well as a high-spirited
rendition of the song "We Only Want the Earth" by Irish patriot James
Connolly by performers from the Communist Party of Canada
The entire day was marked by
a spirit of unity of the
working people reflecting the best the working class of Windsor has
given rise to.
Workers and their allies celebrated May Day in Edmonton
with a militant
rally, march and social. Workers rallied at the Legislature with their
flags, banners, signs and placards expressing their spirit and
determination to "Defend the Rights of Workers! Defend the Rights of
All!" From the Legislature there was
a lively march along Jasper Avenue to Grant Notley Park. The evening
ended with food and a social at Oliver Community Hall, that included
musical performance by Soujah Fyah and much discussion as to the fight
that lies ahead.
The annual May Day banquet and celebration in Prince
a rousing success with more than 130 workers and community members
participating, and 17 union and other organizations sponsoring tables.
This was the highest level of participation since the event was
initiated five years ago.
Workers from a broad range of sectors joined in the
These included workers in the forestry, construction, and food and
beverage industries, along with many public sector employees, including
teachers, professors, firefighters, administrative staff, social
workers and postal workers. Lawyers from two
local law firms also participated, as did musicians, writers, and
At the beginning of the evening, participants stood in a
silence for the workers and employees killed at the Western Forest
Products mill in Nanaimo the previous day.
The banquet and celebration, which took place at a local
included a full course roast beef dinner, featured speakers from the
May Day Organizing Committee, as well as representatives from the 17
sponsoring organizations. The agenda was punctuated with labour songs
and traditional music, provided
by local fiddlers and musicians, as well as by members of the audience,
creating an atmosphere of high spirits and solidarity. Participants
loudly applauded when it was announced that faculty at UNBC, northern
BC's university, had just voted 92 per cent to form a union.
One of the themes that emerged during the course of the
presentations was the necessity of workers not only stepping up their
resistance to the anti-worker, anti-social onslaught of big business
and the governments in its service, but also getting into action
politically, specifically the upcoming municipal
and federal elections.
Some 250 workers, youth and seniors marched with their
and political banners and placards from Clark Park down Commercial
Drive to Grandview Park for a short rally. Speakers at the rally
included representatives of the Vancouver and District Labour Council
and BC Federation of Labour
who organized the event. Lillian Rose Howard, a retired worker and
long time activist from the Nuu-chah-nulth spoke on the struggle for
the rights of First Nations, and also those of women workers. She
affirmed that the Enbridge and Kinder-Morgan pipelines can be stopped.
Mike Weaks, a locked-out Ikea worker,
spoke about the fight Ikea workers have waged since May 2013 against
for concessions made by the multi-billion dollar retail monopoly.
Following the rally, about 30 workers gathered at the
Community Centre for a May Day discussion. Charles Boylan opened the
meeting with a review of some of the main resistance struggles
in BC, highlighting that of owner-operator truckers in their successful
strike against the Port Metro
Vancouver and provincial government. Workers from rail and construction
spoke on the question of holding the monopolies responsible for the
health and safety of workers. Workers from health care and education
sectors spoke about the resistance they are waging against the
anti-social offensive. Two guests from
the Venezuelan Consulate spoke and provided everyone with materials to
bring the truth about what is happening in Venezuela where the mass of
workers took to the streets to affirm their revolution and
ISSUES | HOME
Read The Marxist-Leninist