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Solidarity with postal workers builds across the country


December 2, 2018

On Saturday December 1st, solidarity actions with postal workers took place across the country opposing the federal government legislating them back to work. Below is a brief roundup of some of the over 30 actions that took place.

MONTREAL

Gustavo reports, “On December 1st, as part of the Day of Action in solidarity with Postal Workers, 100+ joined the rally in Montreal to support Postal Workers and denounce the authoritarian decision made by the Federal Government that put on the table back-to-work legislation disrespecting workers' rights. We marched to PM Justin Trudeau's office in the city to deliver the message that workers will resist, and community is part of this movement. Kudos to all Postal Workers, their unity and strength. You will win! We will win! Solidarité!”

OTTAWA

Chantal reports, “Postal workers and their supporters staged a picket line in front of Ottawa’s central downtown mall on December 1, blocking buses and cars on Rideau Street on a timed delay. A puppet of Justin Trudeau helped block traffic while picketers leafleted passersby. Chants were bilingual: So-so-so-solidarité! À qui la rue, à nous la rue! Some from the postal picket continued on down the street to another rally of many hundreds by Franco-Ontarians protesting Ford’s cuts to Francophone services. Joel Harden, NDP MPP for Ottawa Centre, picketed with postal workers before speaking at the Franco-Ontario protest.”

TORONTO

Gateway sorting plant

Carolyn reports, “IS members of the United Steelworkers joined their brothers and sisters in solidarity actions at the Gateway sorting plant in support of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. They have been legislated back to work, but the fight is far from over. Although the picket lines let the workers through, they did not allow any of the tractor trailers delivering mail to enter the facility.

It was an incredible example of cross-union solidarity. There were pickets set up at entrances all around the massive facility, which is the largest in Canada. At our gate, there were IBEW members from Hamilton, OPSEU workers, flight attendants and CUPE members from a variety of work places. Postal workers we spoke to were angry, strong and committed to keep up the struggle. As one said, “Thank you for what you’re doing. Today it’s us but tomorrow it will be you. We’re in this together”.

A retired postal worker from Ottawa who was visiting her son heard it on the radio and came over to join the line. She asked me to take her picture, saying “My husband will be so proud of me. He’s a union member too.” There was a lot of talk about the GM closure in Oshawa, Bombardier and the loss of good, union jobs. The mood was militant and there were many young workers on the line. As a fellow worker said, ‘It really seems like a change is happening. We’re not prepared to take it anymore. Let’s hope this is the start of something big’.”

Rally and mass delegation, MP Julie Dabrusin’s office

Michelle reports, “About 45 people gathered outside MP Julie Dabrusin’s office in Toronto’s east end, in a spirited rally against the federal government’s imposition of back-to-work legislation. Members of several unions, local residents and a number of postal workers from the South Central processing plant and Scarborough, as well as retirees, assembled outside the office.

After about 30 minutes of speeches, and just as one protestor was leading us in singing Solidarity Forever over the megaphone, Dabrusin showed up and hovered expectantly near the megaphone. One protester told her, “You already had your say – you voted to legislate postal workers back.” She quickly entered her office. Eventually, the rally followed her in and postal workers and supporters took turns questioning her vote to legislate postal workers back.

It was a mini-teach-in on the reality confronting postal workers every day. One after another, workers spoke of massive workloads resulting in injuries, bullying and harassment by management, and the demoralizing effect of being legislated back first by Harper, then by Trudeau. Community members also reminded Dabrusin that it was postal workers who led the fight in the community to stop Canada Post from delivering a local far-right anti-Semitic publication door to door. She agreed this was important – but would not answer when asked why she would not now extend support to these same postal workers who made a strong stand against a hate publication in her own riding.

By legislating workers back, the Liberal government has ensured that workloads are likely to get worse, and injury rates will continue to climb – unless a major fight is had. While Dabrusin stood by her government’s callous suppression of workers’ right to strike, the action strengthened the resolve of both community and workers to stand together and keep up the struggle for safe and decent work.”

VANCOUVER

Bradley reports, “Chanting "Negotiate, don't legislate," and "Stand up ! Fight back!" 200 people joined the solidarity rally in front of Cabinet Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould's office in Vancouver. With flags flying members of CUPW, the BC Nurses Union, BCGEU, Longshore, the IWA and many more gathered to condemn Trudeau's back to work legislation.

The first speaker was COPE city councillor, Jean Swanson. She spoke of her time as an organizer for the Operation Solidarity general strike movement, and called for another Operation Solidarity. While COPE is fighting for the city we need, "CUPW is fighting for the postal service we need and the union we need," she explained. She went on, "COPE and CUPW are showing that today radical solutions are the only practical solutions."

Other speakers included the new President of the BC Federation of Labour, and speakers from several unions.

After the rally, the crowd took to the streets to visit a town hall meeting for Liberal MP, Joyce Murray.”

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