More than 450 people braved the rain and wind yesterday, September 6, for the anti-capitalist Labour Day demonstration in Montreal. This new tradition was started by La Riposte syndicale together with the STTIC-CSN last year, and we are proud to have been among the main organizers of this second edition. While about 20 organizations and unions endorsed the event last year, 30 organizations supported the 2021 demonstration!
As the capitalist system sinks further into crisis, the demonstration was held under three slogans representing urgent issues:
FOR CLASS STRUGGLE UNIONISM, AGAINST BACK-TO-WORK LEGISLATION!
BLOCK THE CAQ’S BILL 59!
Jérémie Dhavernas, from Mouvement Action-Chômage, was the first speaker. He pointed out how the massive unemployment triggered by the pandemic demonstrates the obsolescence of the capitalist system. While the CERB and CRB kept millions of workers afloat, the capitalists now want to cut them off. This is unbelievably hypocritical, even though they themselves have received monster subsidies. “More than one-third of the 100 highest paid bosses in Canada in 2019 ran a company that received Canada’s emergency wage subsidy,” he pointed out.
Dominique Daigneault of the CCMM-CSN and Marc-Édouard Joubert of the CRFTQMM then gave a joint speech, symbolizing the importance of working class unity. As they said, the bosses are organized and united, and we must be too. They denounced Bill 59, a health and safety counter-reform. With Bill 59, the bosses are trying to limit workers’ access to compensation. “They would rather put money before our health and our lives.” But as Dominique pointed out, “Without us, the bosses are nothing. Without workers, there is no production of goods, no provision of services.” Those are important words, which the entire labor movement should remember.
Then, before the march began, Sébastien Roy, a nurse and member of La Riposte syndicale, spoke about the horrible situation in the health care sector. He explained that if there is one sector that needs to revive class struggle unionism, it is the nurses. He criticized the collective agreement accepted by his union, the FIQ, explaining that the union leadership was afraid to go on strike because they were afraid of having back-to-work legislation imposed on them. He explained that these laws are a sword of Damocles over the labour movement and that sooner or later, our unions will have to defy back-to-work legislation to defend our right to strike. He appealed for a discussion in the movement for a concrete plan to do so. He concluded by pointing out that the sit-ins that keep happening in the hospitals are evidence of the will to fight and called for militant trade unionism, prepared to defy back-to-work legislation and fight against the capitalist system.
Excellent discours de Sébastien Roy, infirmier et militant avec La Riposte syndicale, sur la situation horrible dans le réseau de la santé, la nécessité d’un syndicalisme de combat et de défier les lois spéciales!
Envoyez un message à cette adresse pour participer à un comité d’infirmières de la base dans la FIQ : email@example.com
Posted by La Riposte syndicale on Monday, September 6, 2021
As the skies began to clear, the march headed down Sherbrooke Street towards the downtown. Two comrades from La Riposte syndicale led the demonstration with slogans such as “Economic crisis, crisis of capitalism”, “Workers united against back-to-work legislation”, “Bosses’ reform, general fight back”, and many others.
La Riposte syndicale had mobilized a contingent of about 70 people for this event:
The demonstration ended at the corner of Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Catherine street, where three speeches closed the event. Julien Arseneau, a member of La Riposte syndicale, began by pointing out that the demonstration ended near the DoubleTree Hotel, where CSN-affiliated workers were going on strike that day. The demonstrators cheered and chanted “Workers, united, will never be defeated” in solidarity with these workers.
Julien then spoke about the fact that every day the capitalists show that they are incapable of running society. He mentioned the example of the president of the bosses’ union, the Conseil du patronat, who, commenting on the demand for a minimum wage of $18 an hour, said, “Everyone wants a good life, but unfortunately the economy doesn’t quite work that way.” This is a stark condemnation of the capitalist system straight from the mouth of one of its advocates. Julien went on to explain that we can’t just be against capitalism; we have to be for something too. The labour movement must rediscover its rich socialist tradition and fight for workers to take democratic control of the economy.
Posted by La Riposte syndicale on Monday, September 6, 2021
Hugo Charette, a member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, then gave an impassioned speech denouncing the evils of the capitalist system, particularly its inability to deal with the environmental crisis. As a postal worker, he could not ignore the back-to-work legislation that the federal government has used more than once in recent years against postal workers’ strikes. He called for a serious discussion on how to fight these laws, saying that court challenges are not enough.
The event ended with a speech by Geneviève Raymond of STTIC-CSN, who thanked the 30 groups that endorsed the event, and told the activists present that Labour Day 2022 is coming up! As she said, the labour movement is capable of standing up when workers are under attack.
That potential must now be mobilized. Real wages have been stagnant for decades, and unfortunately, this year’s agreements in the public sector will not reverse that trend. Back-to-work legislation is corroding the movement, and the bosses want to cut our health and safety. We are entering a period of intense class struggle. Sooner or later, the union leadership will have to return to the militant methods that made gains possible in the past. For this, it will be necessary to abandon all illusions about the possibility of reasoning with the bosses. It means understanding that the union struggle is a struggle between two classes with opposing and irreconcilable interests. And ultimately, the labour movement will have to return to its socialist roots, because our living and working conditions will always be in danger as long as the economy remains in the hands of capitalists.
Join us in defending this perspective in the labour movement!
Organizations who endorsed the event:
Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS)
Association of McGill University Support Employees/Le Syndicat des employé.e.s occassionel.le.s de l’Université McGill (AMUSE)
Association québécoise des infirmières et infirmiers (AQII)
ASSS Maintenant ou jamais
Au bas de l’échelle
Comité Chômage de l’Est de Montréal
Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain – CSN
Conseil régional FTQ Montréal métropolitain
Game Workers Unite Montréal
Mouvement Action-Chômage Montréal
Mob Pour les services publics
Mouvement autonome et solidaire des sans-emploi (MASSE)
La Riposte syndicale
SEMB-SAQ – CSN
STT d’Oasis Animation – CSN
STTIC – CSN
STTP – Section locale de Montréal
Syndicat TRAC Union
Union des travailleuses et travailleurs accidentés ou malades (UTTAM)