Join Workers' Fight In Canada

The Militant Vol.59 no.46, 11 December 1995

The Ontario Federation of Labor has called a one-day strike in London, Ontario, for December 11 to protest cuts in social services and antilabor legislation. Workers from other cities are making plans to bus and carpool to join the picket lines and rallies starting at 12:00 a.m. This is an opportunity for working people and fighting youth to stand together to defend our rights.

We can take our cue from the victory won by workers in Alberta. We don't just fight for ourselves—we fight for everybody, said hospital striker Cerena Ribeiro about the wildcat strike that pushed back Alberta government attacks on health care and jobs.

The Alberta government has led the rulers' campaign to slash social services in Canada. It cut its $4.2 billion health-care budget by $600 million and planned to axe another $53 million. Alberta premier Ralph Klein insisted he would maintain his cuts without blinking. That is, until the unexpected happened. When striking hospital laundry workers were ordered back to work, over 3,000 other hospital employees joined the strike. Paperworkers, steelworkers, postal workers, and others joined the picket lines. Patients came to offer their support.

On November 23, headlines across Canada read, Ralph Blinked, as the Klein government announced it would retreat from the planned cuts and postpone contracting work out.

Around the world, capitalist governments are attempting to slash funding for health care and education, unemployment insurance, and other social services to shore up sagging profits at the expense of working people. They aim to take back gains won through labor battles and other social struggles.

They tell working people in Canada that they have too much—health care and other social services are supposedly costly privileges they can no longer afford. The employers say that those workers who are the hardest hit by the economic crisis—the unemployed, disabled, elderly, and immigrants—are robbing those of us lucky enough to have a job by receiving social services from our tax dollars. They say the Quebecois fight for independence is a threat to workers' future. The employers hope to get us to turn against each other, soften us up for bigger attacks on our rights and working conditions, and prevent us from fighting back.

But they are learning that they can't always divide and rule. Last week, France was swept by strikes of workers and students fighting against attacks on public services and education. In Canada, hundreds of thousands of Quebecois, through Quebec's referendum campaign, advanced their fight against national oppression. Thousands demonstrated in Sydney, Nova Scotia, against health-care cuts. Eleven thousand day-care workers staged a one-day strike in Ontario.

Working people are showing that we can stand up for our rights. To do this, we need to reject the bosses' divide- and-rule game and fight to defend all workers' needs by joining the protest rallies and picket lines throughout Canada and presenting demands on the government such as: jobs for all, by reducing the workweek with no cut in pay; affirmative action; defend the rights of Quebecois, immigrants, and the most oppressed; cancel the foreign debt of third world countries like Mexico.

A strong showing in London December 11 by working people and fighting youth will help strengthen working-class unity and push back the rulers' assault on labor. For those interested in the protest more information can be gotten from the London Labour Council at (519) 642-4701.