File spoon-archives/marxism-general.archive/marxism-general_1996/96-12-01.070, message 22

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 96 23:51:16    
Subject: M-G: Big demonstrations in Canada

 Arturo Mundigo (LTG)

Friday October 25 and Saturday October 26 were history making days in 
Toronto. On the Friday the city was brought to a halt and on Saturday the 
biggest demonstration in recent Canadian history took place (300,000) 
against the Tory government's attacks on workers and the poor.
While Toronto's unionised force is only 30% or so, all the targets set by 
the organisers to shut down were met: the transit system, the postal 
services, government offices, train station, city hall, construction sites, 
etc. While many intended to paralise the financial district and target the 
puppeteers behind the Tory puppets, this took place only in a more symbolic 
and indirect way. Nevertheless, the disruption in Transit caused a lot of 
people to simply take the day off to avoid inconvenience. About a million 
people did not show up for work on Oct 25.
The most important points of struggle were the Transit system and the post 
offices. There was an injunction to limit picketing at the Transit sites. 
But it was very clear that it would be defied. At the postal stations the 
management was filming picket
 and threatened to fire anyone who picketed that day. Pickets were actually 
>from other workplaces who wore sky masks, so that service was effectively 
shut down too.
With our small forces we managed to intervene in both the Transit and the 
Postal shutdown, through both the organisations in which we play a leading 
role: the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and the Unemployed Workers 
Chris and I went to the Transit yard at three in the morning of the 25th to 
join the UWC and public sector unionists and other militants who were 
determined to shut it down that day. Since the Transit union had voted for 
the shutdown, the majority of workers stayed away or went to picket other 
sites that day. So we basically had to stop a small number of scabs (between 
60 and 80 at most), the majority of whom were administrative, supervisory 
and security staff (and some non-union maintenance). We allowed no cars in. 
The picket captain (union staff) went on TV asking us not to stop people (it 
was supposed to be an 'informational picket') which he had to do to save his 
ass. But the militants who had no sleep in order to be there were not about 
to play the game and began chanting 'stuff the injunction, transit won't 
The UWC people, particularly Chris and I, played an important role as the de 
facto picket captains, organizing effective pickets to prevent scabs from 
walking in by linking arms in a way that it would be impossible to sneak in, 
and to prevent the use of our hands which could have got us charged with 
assault. By 8:30 it was clear that transit would not function that day. The 
News were there reporting on the 'illegal pickets' preventing workers form 
coming in (at most 40 drivers gathered across the str
et for about an hour but made no attempt of even crossing the street. We 
declared victory, as it was key to shutting down the city.
Our other comrades were at the main postal plant with OCAP. Some people got 
arrested and there was physical confrontation with some scabs. But we won 
there too. The Tories have not moved one bit from their agenda yet. It looks 
like the only thing that will begin to turn things around will be a province 
wide shutdown for which we have agitated since the start. The idea is 
spreading and union leaders are beginning to use it as a threat in their 
speeches. Unfortunately, there was no date announced in th
ir speeches at the rally and the struggle now is to force them to do so. 

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