January 23, 2023 - No. 1
Our Work in 2023
The Workers' Centre of the Communist Party of Canada
(Marxist-Leninist) sends best wishes to all the workers across the
country and their families. This year the situation calls on the
workers to make further advances in uniting in action from coast to
coast to coast to provide the serious problems all of us and our
families, communities, society and country face, with solutions.
The problems we face are mainly a result of the anti-social offensive which has restructured the state to serve only narrow private interests at home and the U.S. striving for world domination abroad. During COVID the damage this restructuring has caused was amply revealed and now the situation is untenable and unsustainable. Crimes continue to be committed against humanity and nature in the name of human rights, Indigenous rights, women's rights, minority rights, religious freedom, LGBTQ2S+ rights, prosperity and national security. With Canada's increasing integration into the U.S. war machine, privatization, production and infrastructure are all in the service of the U.S. striving for world domination. Everyone and everything are made disposable. It must not pass.
The aim of the Workers' Centre is to assist workers to organize themselves and fight for their own interests and the general interests of society and for humanity itself. We are active in the trade unions, through which we strive to defend the interests of the working class, and we also help those who are unorganized to form their collectives according to their interests. We also pay specific attention to the problems of migrant workers, visa workers and undocumented workers and mobilize all sectors of society to defend the rights of all. In our ranks, women are leaders who stand second to none in making sure the rights of all by virtue of being human take centre stage.
By creating Workers' Forums we involve the workers to speak in their own name to inform the polity of their living and working conditions, the problems they face, the solutions they are proposing and implementing, and the results achieved. This contributes to informing each other and all Canadians of what is really going on in the country and creating public opinion in favour of the workers' claims on society. Workers are entitled to make these claims as members of society second to none because of their objective reality within the society everyone depends on for their living.
To participate in this work is to contribute to the defence of the interests of the working class. It raises the level of the workers as regards both their consciousness and their capacity to organize themselves within the conditions which exist today. By analyzing the developments directly, the ensemble of relations between humans and humans and between humans and nature reveals the absence of political power in the hands of the people. It is their striving for empowerment which creates the structures which permit them to exercise control over their lives.
The workers and the broad masses of the people are always called upon to operate within the limits of labour law and rights as defined by an antiquated Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, more aptly called a Charter of Rights and Limitations. Who sets the limitations is the key question in today's world where the conditions and the authority are out of sync.
The need to go beyond the limitations imposed by the rulers is obvious. Governments of police powers are acting with impunity. Even they are smashing through the limitations which the racist and discriminatory laws and constitutional order imposed on the polity in the past to fetter their ability to act with impunity. But while they smash the limitations on their own ability to act with impunity, they are imposing more and more limitations on what the working class, Indigenous Peoples, Métis and Inuit and all members of society can or cannot say and do to defend their own civil and constitutional rights and what belongs to them by right of being human.
In this situation, the Workers' Centre is intent on involving the workers in setting their own limits which serve their own interests and those of the working people within the framework of the general interests of society. They themselves must discuss, define their interests in a manner which accords with the requirements of the times and the rights of all and humanizes the natural and social environment by activating the human factor/social consciousness. This requires that workers go beyond the limitations imposed by the collective bargaining regime and all that it involves, at a time the employers refuse to bargain. They cannot permit others to define who they are, or their place or their demands. Far from it, their fight in the court of public opinion starts with speaking in their own name to occupy the space for change which exists objectively, independent of anyone's will, beliefs, or status.
Workers have to work for their own interests as a collective. They have to take into account that their interests and those of their union and employer are not identical, but separate and usually opposed to their own, as are those of the ruling class. Today, the limitations established by labour law and collective bargaining have to be surmounted because today employers refuse to negotiate. They dictate and then engage in defamation of the workers and marketing techniques to isolate the workers and they pass laws to legalize their dictate. The only outlook the workers are permitted to espouse is the juridical outlook which keeps them tied to a system of negotiations which no longer functions, thus exacerbating the clash between the authority and the conditions. At best, collective bargaining deals with one aspect of the struggle, which is to reach a deal if it is possible. The interests of the workers cannot be defended by collective bargaining alone. The working people must collectively wage all forms of struggle: economic, political, legal, theoretical and philosophical and, most importantly, ideological in the court of public opinion
In everything it does, the Workers' Centre of CPC(M-L) strives to open the path for the progress of society. Its aim is to create a society which affirms rights by virtue of being human. Such a society has social emancipation as its constant striving because the elimination of the system of wage-slavery is required to end the exploitation of persons by persons so that the relations between humans and humans and humans and nature are humanized and workers are no longer things which others can dispose of.
We cannot find salvation within the present system either alone, or as a collective of workers, or even as a class. The present system is based on the exploitation of workers and other working people and has no intention to provide conditions which benefit the working people. Our focus today is to ensure that the working class and other working people are able to see beyond what is presented by the rulers as the road which brings peace, democracy and freedom. All preaching that there is no alternative to this system must be rejected by discussing together how matters pose themselves, discerning what's what to see what is relevant and what is not so as to get at the heart of the matters and draw warranted conclusions. The process of discussing together and speaking freely in one's own name about matters of concern reveals the line of march. It brings the kind of broad and profound consciousness necessary for the working people to have profound knowledge of the deep-going transformations which are the order of the day so that they can be in the forefront of fighting for the rights of all.
In the 20th century the workers raised their consciousness and capacity to organize by participating in union life and in the life of political parties when they were still primary organizations whose aim was to realize a vision for society the workers espoused. So too today the workers must participate in the work for the renewal of the political process so as to raise their capacity to organize according to the conditions which they and society confront today.
Even though our resources are limited, by relying on those who see the necessity for this work, we are able to make significant headway. Extending the links with those who are striving for the same thing, exchanging information and views and reaching warranted conclusions together is a sure path to achieving success in the work we set for ourselves in the year ahead.
Best wishes for the success of this work in 2023. Join In!
Join Hamilton Rally at Liberals' Retreat to Demand Status for All
The Migrant Rights Network is calling on everyone to join them in demanding Status for All! on Monday, January 23 at noon in Hamilton. Prime Minister Trudeau and all of the federal Ministers are meeting in Hamilton that day for the winter Cabinet retreat. Migrant rights organizations want the federal government to create a regularization program that ensures permanent resident status for all undocumented people -- no exceptions -- and they want the deportations stopped.
There are an estimated 1.7 million people without permanent status living in Canada -- that's about one in 23 residents in the country. Of these, over 500,000 are undocumented. Those who are migrants and refugees live in a state of constant stress, insecurity and instability.
While statistics have not been released, migrant organizations have all reported a sharp increase in detentions and deportations in 2022. In 2020, 8,825 people, including 136 children, were detained in conditions where people face some of the harshest forms of incarceration in Canada. This includes being put in maximum-security prisons and solitary confinement, both of which result in restricted access to legal counsel and other vital support services. In 2020-2021, Canada deported an average of 31 people each day.
At least 19 people have died in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency since 2000. Most recently, an as yet unnamed undocumented migrant died in immigration custody in Surrey, BC on Christmas Day and Fritznel Richard died a few days later in Quebec while crossing the border back to the U.S. after being unable to get a work permit in Canada.
There are at least 1.2 million people in Canada on temporary work, study or refugee claimant permits. Those in low-waged work in particular have no access to permanent residency so eventually they are forced to either leave or stay in the country undocumented.
In 2022, over 853,000 work and study permits were issued from January to September. This puts 2022 on track to become the year with the highest number of temporary work and study permits issued, without any increase in access to permanent residency for low-waged migrants.
Canadians saw during the COVID-19 pandemic the injustices faced by all migrants living in Canada. Migrants, at the height of the pandemic, continued to perform essential work in hospitals, to care for children and the elderly, and to grow and deliver food, all the while facing ruthless exploitation, inadequate care and unsafe working conditions. In the case of undocumented workers, many of whom provide essential services, they are totally excluded from rights including access to health care and social services.
A January 20 announcement by the Trudeau government is an example of the cruel nature of the small and exclusionary programs it provides, which recognize the rights of some and deny all rights to most. In a self-congratulatory press release January 20, the Trudeau government declared "Canada doubles immigration program for out-of-status construction workers in the Greater Toronto Area." The program initially launched in July 2019 has resulted in 452 individuals being accepted as permanent residents (192 principal applicants and their dependents). It is now to be extended from 500 to 1,000 eligible individuals and their spouses, partners and dependents in the Greater Toronto Area.
The Migrant Rights Network notes the extremely difficult path to status provided by the program: "Only those who are related to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident are allowed to apply" and "applicants must also provide proof that they have been living in Canada for five years and that they have been working in specific jobs in construction for at least 4,680 hours -- both of which requires documentation from landlords and employers that puts them at greater risk of exploitation."
The director of Migrante Alberta, Marco Luciano, said, "Piecemeal regularization is not the solution. We demand an inclusive regularization program without caps and for all sectors. We must end the inhumane deportation and detention of migrants."
Migrant Rights Network reports, "Every migrant-led organization in Canada, as well as over 480 civil society organizations, have jointly called for full and permanent immigration status for all migrants in the country, as well as permanent resident status for all on arrival in future." Over the last few months, 25,000 people have sent messages to Ministers.
Workers' Forum calls on everyone to join the demonstration at noon at Hamilton City Hall to demand Status for All! Regularization for All!
Prince George Rally Protests Self-Serving Forestry Plans
A spirited rally of some 150 people was held on short notice in Prince George, BC, during the evening of January 17, to protest the recent announcement by Canfor of the closure of the pulp line at the Prince George Pulp & Paper Mill. The closure will result in the loss of 300 direct jobs, most of whom are members of Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) Local 9, and as many as 900 indirect jobs in the community (contractors, service providers, etc.), all of which constitutes a big blow to the local workforce and the region as a whole.
The rally was held outside the PG Civic Centre, where the annual BC Natural Resource Forum was taking place. This is an event that brings together the big forest companies and others in the resource sector, and at which BC Premier David Eby was scheduled to make announcements regarding forest policy in the province.
The rally was organized by Stop the Spray BC and supported by Conservation North and the Stand Up for the North Committee. Those in attendance at the rally included pulp and paper workers (including members of PPWC Local 9 and Unifor), foresters, environmentalists, small business people, and others from the community.
Speakers at the event highlighted the need for more local decision-making and community control over what happens to the province's forests. They underlined the need to preserve and create jobs through better forest management, getting more value out of the wood, preserving old growth forests, and ending the practice of the globalized corporations running away with huge profits extracted from the forest resource and the value created by forestry workers -- value that should be reinvested in the forests, workers and communities.
At the conclusion of the rally, organizers and many participants continued discussion, making plans for further initiatives in the days and weeks ahead.
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