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Resistance is happening: fight to win $15 and Fairness

Carolyn Egan

October 3, 2018

Over 40,000 students with the support of teachers walked out of their schools across Ontario demanding that the provincial government stop its attack on the sex education curriculum. Young organizers took matters into their own hands and connected with their fellow students who left their classrooms chanting as they showed their anger. They fully understand what is at risk with the high rates of suicide among young LGBTQ students and the assaults and harassment that so many are facing

Trans, queer, women and students of colour were often in the lead. This was one of the largest demonstrations that we have had in this province for quite a while showing that young people are not going to wait for others to lead a fight back against the policies of the Tory government. They carried on the spirit of the American students who walked out of classrooms across the US against gun violence.

Spontaneous demonstrations occurred at Queens Park when the government was cutting the number of seats at Toronto City council from forty seven to twenty five. Five hundred people lined up at midnight to get into the chambers when Doug Ford insisted that the legislature meet during the night. Residents were led out in handcuffs as they disrupted the proceedings. As Desmond Cole was quoted in the National Observer,  “If Torontonians are waiting for some higher power to stop this attack on our city, we’ll wait in vain: we have to stand up for ourselves, because no one else is coming to save us.”

Public meetings were held in wards across the city. Over 500 crowded into The 519 in the heart of the LGBTQ community and the Metropolitan United Church downtown was packed with speakers from labour, the FF$15 and Firness Campaign and Acorn among others. A majority government had its way hoping that right wing councillors will win the municipal election and allow developers to make their billions driving poor and working class people out of the downtown core, privatizing services and laying off workers.

The Fight for Fifteen and Fairness is the broadest and most active campaign and has been mobilizing in every area of the province. It is fighting to maintain the legislated increase of the minimum wage to $15 scheduled for January 1, 2019 and other victories that were won in Bill 148 including paid emergency leave, equal pay and successor rights.

This fight is far from over and even though the Chamber of Commerce and other business lobbys are urging the government to roll these gains back, grass roots power is there to stop it. The community campaign is going all out with actions taking place in cities and towns across Ontario. It is women and people of colour who are most at risk if we loose this battle, and it is also they who are actively involved in the campaign.

The community is working hard and the trade unions must do all they can to use their collective power to put pressure on the Tory government to cease and desist in its attacks on working people and the poor in all our diversity. Organized and non-organized members must work together in solidarity. A victory here could give confidence to all who are struggling.

Some unions have seconded members to hold lunch time gatherings, plant gating and pop up meetings to get signatures on petitions and rally members to fight back. Others are going door to door in their communities and tabling on campuses where they work. October 15 is being designated as a day of labour action and every union should go all out to mobilize rank and file members to show Doug Ford that we will not accept this attempt to worsen the lives of working people and the poor in the interest of corporate profits. 

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