Against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, the pandemic, and political upheavals, 18 trade unions and organizations have united to transform Montreal Labour Day into a large, militant, and radical gathering. On the initiative of STTIC-CSN and La Riposte Syndicale (Labour Fightback), a trade union demonstration against capitalism, for militant trade unionism and for a class struggle against racism will take place, September 7 at 5 p.m. in Dorchester Square.
The timing of this demonstration is significant. We have entered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In this context, the Canadian government has injected massive amounts of money into the economy. While some of this money has gone to the CERB, the majority of these billions has gone to rescue private companies owned by billionaires. These astronomical sums will eventually have to be repaid and someone will have to pay for the financial rescue of the bosses. If the years following the 2008 crisis are anything to go by, the bill will be passed on to the working class in the form of austerity. In Quebec, the CAQ (Coalition Avenir Québec) has offered almost nothing to workers since the beginning of the crisis. Nurses, orderlies and other essential workers know this. And we can be sure that this government of the bosses will also impose austerity and attack workers’ living conditions. In this context, we consider that there has never been a more appropriate time for the Quebec labour movement to revive its militant traditions and prepare for the struggle.
The Labour Day demonstration will be held under the following three slogans:
Capitalism is the profit of a minority in front of the needs of the majority. It is the bosses sheltering on their private yachts, in their mansions, while the workers risk their lives at the front in the face of COVID-19. It is austerity for the majority while the minority hides its wealth in tax havens. It’s time to call things by their proper names. The trade union movement must oppose this system. They are rich because we are poor, and we are poor because they are rich.
For militant trade unionism!
The Quebec labour movement has a rich militant tradition. The most significant gains come mainly from the 1960s and 1970s, a time when strikes were numerous, when the movement defied anti-union laws, but also when union leaders and workers spoke openly about fighting capitalism. Thus, it is noticeable that socialist ideas were widely present in the trade union movement at that time. In this respect, the publications in 1971 and 1972, the radical manifestos of the CSN, the FTQ and the CEQ (now CSQ), testify to the vigour with which these ideas inspired the labour movement. That being said, over the last 30 years, we have unfortunately seen several major setbacks. This is particularly evident in the decline in the standard of living of public sector workers over the past 20 years. This trend is not accidental. It coincides with the growth of the ideas and methods of business unionism, of class collaboration, which essentially amounts to negotiating with the boss what gains we will be taken away. The experience of the last few years has shown the bankruptcy of these methods, and the need to return to class struggle unionism. Without struggle, no gains are possible. It is necessary to revive this tradition.
For a class struggle against racism!
Racism is a poison in our society. It is the weapon of choice for employers to divide us, to break us, so that they can ultimately lower the living conditions of all workers. No worker gains anything when a colleague is oppressed. Without solidarity, there would be no trade union movement, and the struggle against oppression is a question of solidarity for the whole working class. The tradition of the labour movement is to fight division through unity. We must use the methods of our class to fight racism – demonstrations, walkouts, and strikes in solidarity with the victims of racism.
La Riposte syndicale/Labour Fightback intends to mobilize en masse for this rally, which we hope can become a proud tradition for the Quebec labour movement. We will vigorously defend the need to revive socialist and revolutionary ideas in the labour movement as the best way to fight against the bankruptcy of the capitalist system.
We invite all trade unions and organizations to share this invitation, to endorse the demonstration and to attend in large numbers!
Details of the event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/618723698760395/
Lists of trade unions and organisations endorsing the demonstration as of September 4:
STTIC – CSN (Union of Community Intervention Workers)
La Riposte syndicale/Labour Fightback
SITT – IWW Montreal (Industrial Workers of the World Montreal)
STTP – CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers)
MAC de Montréal (Unemployment Action Movement)
TRAC union (Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia)
SÉTUE (Union des étudiant-e-s employé-e-s de l’UQAM)
Travailleuses et travailleurs progressistes de l’éducation (Progressive education workers)
Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain – CSN (CSN Montreal council)
Conseil régional FTQ Montréal métropolitain (FTQ Montreal council)
IWC – CTI – Immigrant workers centre
Au bas de l’échelle
Comité Chômage de l’Est de Montréal (East Montreal Unemployed committee)
AGSEM – AÉÉDEM (The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill)
AIEST – IATSE, section locale 262
SCFP – CUPE, section locale 2850
Syndicat des Employé-es d’Aux Vivres Cuisine – CSN