Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Canadian Steel Workers: "Breaking New Ground, the Spirit of '46!"

Stelco Lock Out
Breaking New Ground, the Spirit of '46!

- Information Update, Local 1005 USWA -

Marxist-Leninist Today, publication of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)

We are now approaching one month since U.S. Steel locked us out. Of course our members want to know how long this can last. At this point, we don't know. We do know we are united and determined. Together, we are working things out. Our spirits are high and not about to be broken no matter what U.S. Steel does to lord it over us and the entire city. We also know a few other things. For instance clearly the issues affecting our particular circumstances are not ours alone. Workers across the country in all sectors of the economy are facing two-tier workplaces, insecurity and downward pressure on their wages, benefits, working conditions and pensions. They are all facing anti-worker dictates on the part of private and public employers and the governments that defend them. This is not acceptable to Canadians. It is a dictate of power and privilege that everything must be done to cater to the narrow interests of the global monopolies because allegedly if they become richer, we too will be secure. Even school children know this is simply not true. A safe and secure society cannot be built that is split so dramatically between rich and poor and the people have no control over their lives. What will it take to stop our governments catering to monopoly right and denying public right?

The issues we are fighting for have nothing to do with negotiations for a new contract because U.S. Steel is not negotiating. It is abusing its dominant global position over us to impose a dictate that nobody agrees with, not its employees, not the community and not Canadians who nation-wide are opposing the destruction of manufacturing and nation-wrecking.

As far as the lockout goes, it was not our choice. We clearly said we wanted to work. We did not even call a strike vote and even offered a stand pat agreement despite the improvements our members require and deserve. This foreign monopoly is using the blackmail of being locked out for months, especially in the winter cold, to extort concessions. How is this legal? Canadians are entitled to know. Our situation shows that when it comes to labour relations, a major political overhaul is required. No human worthy of the name can accept that their lives at work and in society can be so totally out of their control. They cannot accept a situation in which those in dominant positions of power and privilege, whether in business or government, can use that power to turn lives upside down and hypocritically declare there is no alternative.

We are told that everyone else has accepted two-tier workplaces and have mostly given up any hope of security in retirement with a defined benefit. What is so special about us? Why should we be any different? The simple answer is that we are not any different because nobody else agrees with this dictate even if they have been forced through extortion to submit. The situation calls for concerted efforts across Canada for laws and governments to stand up for public right against monopoly right, that dare to say No! to these out-of-control global monopolies.

Who is going to hold U.S. Steel to account? We are going to hold U.S. Steel to account and we are calling on everyone to join us. U.S. Steel is not bargaining in good faith; it does not even recognize us as human beings with rights. For its narrow aims, it has used the ending of the contract to dismiss us, shut down production and excuse it with a phony "labour dispute." It is abusing its dominant position to blackmail us into giving up what belongs to us by right. How can there be good faith bargaining when the monopoly does not even recognize that its employees through our union have a say in our working conditions and our claims of wages and pensions on the wealth we produce? How can the use of a dominant global position to achieve a private aim over Canadians be considered lawful?

Across the country, workers are demanding that governments must either enforce laws that protect the public's interests or pass laws that will do so. They are demanding that the economy must serve the public. They do not accept the trickle-down hoax that concessions given to global monopolies will somehow benefit Canadians or strengthen the economy. It's a neoliberal lie! Just look at the unending economic crisis!

This past week the Convention of the Quebec Federation of Labour took up the fight to challenge neoliberal politics, as did the CAW Council. The CEP, postal workers and other public sector workers have all taken up this fight. In mining, forestry, manufacturing, energy and other crucial sectors, workers organized into the United Steelworkers are engaged in this struggle. All those who have come forward to support us on the picket line say we must hold U.S. Steel to account by defeating its attempt to abuse its dominant global position. They are joining us to raise the demand that laws must uphold public right not monopoly right and that governments and government agencies must step up to the plate in defense of the rights of Canadians.

This is what it means to break new ground! This is the Spirit of '46! It heartens us to know that when we fight for a just cause, others are there with us to break new ground!

Steelworkers Fighting for the Security of All in Retirement!
Uphold the Dignity of Labour!
Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!
Keep Stelco Producing! Keep Hamilton Producing! Keep Canada Producing!

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