On May 1, over 40 organizations, from labour unions to socialist groups, will come together to mark this year’s May Day. The rally will take place online, and thousands of viewers are expected to tune in to the livestream and Zoom meeting to celebrate the international day of the worker.
Speakers will include Carlos Santos, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union 113 (ATU 113, which represents Toronto transit workers); Jan Simpson, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW National); Tiffany Balducci, Vice President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario (CUPE Ontario); Fightback editor Alex Grant; the International Workers of the World; and Federal New Democratic Party MP Matthew Green. For a full list of the over 40 endorsers, see the end of this article.
These organizations came together to form the Labour May Day Committee (LMDC) in the winter of 2020. The LMDC, democratically discussed and voted upon three main political demands:
- Rally for a stay-at-home strike for full compensation and comprehensive personal protective equipment (PPE) for all workers!
- Fight capitalism!
- Worker’s of the World and Oppressed Unite!
It is important to note that before the outbreak of coronavirus in Canada, the first demand was for a “General Strike to Bring Down Ford!” This demand coincided with the struggle of Ontario teachers, who were on strike, and that of all workers fighting back against the austerity of the Doug Ford government. The change to the demand recognizes that the Ford government is continuing to fail frontline and essential workers during the coronavirus crisis. The demand calls on the labour movement to begin organizing a stay-at-home strike of non-essential workers across Ontario in solidarity with essential workers. It also calls on the labour movement to use strike action to force employers and the government to provide PPE to all essential workers. The most powerful tool in the hands of the working class is their ability to withdraw their labour—that is, to strike. With this tool, and organized with the resources and authority of large labour organizations, workers can win comprehensive PPE and full compensation.
The second demand calls for a fight against capitalism. Capitalism is a system organically designed, from root to branch, to exploit the working class for the benefit of a rich minority—the capitalist class. Too many labour leaders seem to believe that there is a middle ground to be found between these two classes, and that capitalism can be reformed to be friendlier towards workers. However, such reforms require that the wealth of society be put to use for the good of the many, wealth that is currently in the pockets and the bank vaults of the capitalists. You can not control what you do not own. Workers produce the wealth, but the capitalists own it under capitalism. Fighting capitalism means fighting for worker’s control over production and distribution—a socialist society. Anyone who watches the news today can see that capitalism is spectacularly failing humanity. The coronavirus has exacerbated all the existing tensions in society, giving the final push to a global economy that has long been tottering on the edge of a slump. Someone will have to pay for this crisis, and the capitalists will try to foist that burden on the working class, with cuts and austerity. The struggle of workers to defend themselves, out of practical necessity, pits them against capitalism, and revolutionary movements are on the order of the day. In this climate we must demand that the worker not be sacrificed at the altar of profit. We must demand that the bosses pay for the crisis!
Fightback is happy to see so many prominent labour speakers at this year’s May Day rally. However, given the coronavirus’ devastating social and economic impacts, it is urgent that the labour movement adopt the radical demands of the rally. The Canadian labour movement as a whole has generally been tail-ending the federal Liberal government and business community, in the interests of upholding a supposed “national unity”. This is a critical mistake. Now, more than ever, working class people across the country need to come together to defend their lives and living conditions, rather than collaborate with the bosses who only care about safeguarding their profits. Bold action from the labour leadership would have a tremendous impact. “National unity” has only resulted in Justin Trudeau dolling out billions to big business, while throwing pennies at some workers and throwing other workers under the bus.
There is enough money to provide for the needs of the workers, as Canada’s big banks and corporations are sitting on more than $1 trillion according to Statistics Canada. While the rich sit on their cash, millions of workers risk their lives, and are already dying as a result. On a day that represents the sacrifices of workers generations before us, we must come together, not on the basis of “national unity” with the bosses, but on class lines. The working class of all countries have more in common with each other, than with the capitalist class and their crony government representatives.
On May 1, tune in to hear your labour leaders, trade unionists, and other socialist groups speak in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Let us use this day to rally millions of workers to demand strike action and unify our class. Demand that our leaders take action! We must begin to reclaim May Day’s radical traditions in an effort to create a real fighting alternative in the labour movement.
Event page for May Day: https://www.facebook.com/events/198691281310854/
List of endorsers for May Day Rally 2020:
ATU Local 113
Canadian Freelance Union/Syndicat canadien des pigistes
CUPE Local 3902
CUPE Local 3903
CUPE Local 3904
CUPW Local 626
Cops Out Of CUPE
OPSEU Local 553
OSBCU – CSCSO
Toronto Education Workers / Local 4400
UNITE HERE Local 75
Beaches-East York NDP
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) / Parti Communiste du Canada (marxiste-léniniste)
Council of Iranian Refugees and Immigrants in Toronto
Free Them Now ! (Campaign to free prisoners in Iran)
Hugo Chavez People’s Defense Front
IWW Toronto / IWW GDC Local 28
La Riposte Syndicale
Left-Worker Communist Party of Iraq
Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle
NDP Socialist Caucus
The Socialist Party of Canada
The Socialist Project
Toronto Venezuela Solidarity Coalition
Worker-Communist Party of Iran (WPI)
Worker-Communist Party of Kurdistan
Workers’ Action Movement (WAM)
Workers’ Warehouse Centre in Brampton
John Clarke – Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP Toronto)
Matthew Green – Federal NDP MP, Hamilton Centre
Stephen Crozier – New Westminster Labour Council President
Mike Layton – Toronto City Councillor – Ward 11
John Orrett – President of the Thornhill NDP
Jon Aston – President, Newmarket-Aurora NDP