(en) Windsor, Ontario shut down by strike

Platformist Anarchism (platform@geocities.com)
Tue, 21 Oct 1997 10:39:11 +0000

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Windsor Shut Down

Unions, community groups and social activists closed Windsor, a city in south western Ontario, on Friday 17 October.

Standing on the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Riverside Drive overlooking the Detroit skyline, we watched as thousands upon thousands of workers heading from east and west converged at Dieppe Park on the riverfront. Banners, flags, and chants filled the air as many took to the streets in protest for the first time in their lives.

The action had begun at 11:00 p.m on Thursday evening. Most protesters stood on picket lines for 6 hour stretches, until relieved by their colleagues. 90% of workplaces were effectively shut down as people exercised their democratic right to protest against the Harris government agenda of public sector cuts. Workers from every sector then took to the streets to send a message to the Ontario Tories. Thousands of teachers marched and stood on picket lines beside auto, postal, construction workers and teamsters, defying the employers' threats of financial penalties against themselves and their unions.

Public transit was shut down, the municipal government was closed, guards from the local jail walked off their jobs, no mail was delivered, Big 3 auto makers lost $millions in production, and the Windsor Casino which is owned by the Ontario government and generates 1.5 million in profit per day, was closed for 12 hrs. Downtown Windsor was desolate until the workers came marching in, reclaiming their community. The protesters chanted "Ontario, yours to recover", adapting the government tourist bureau slogan "Ontario, yours to discover".

When General Motors of Canada threatened to fine each worker $2,500 for their involvement in Friday's protest, Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove stated that if GM wanted to play that game, they would have a picket line outside their plants every Friday from now until Christmas....

Harold Reaume owns Windsor Match Plate, a CAW tool shop in the city. Reaume threatened to liquidate his assets if "his" workers did not decertify from the CAW, as 8 busloads of supporters surrounded the plant and closed off the entire street access.

At Friday's rally, speakers such as Canadian Labour Congress president Bob White, CAW president Buzz Hargrove, Judy D'arcy and Syd Ryan of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and Lhea Cassleman from Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), spoke passionately against the Harris agenda and committed their unions to fight back.

Sam George, brother of slain First Nations comrade Dudley George who was shot and killed in September 1995 by Ontario Provincial Police officers at Ipperwash provincial park, told the crowd of close to 60,000 that his brother had been killed for exercising his right to protest and fighting for civil rights, just as they were fighting today.

LabourNet Report by Colette Hooson Vice President CAW local 240

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