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Make 2023 a year of resistance

Carolyn Egan

January 5, 2023
As we start a new year, workers and activists are looking back at 2022 inspired by the uprisings in Sri Lanka, Iran, Sudan and around the globe. There is a sense of optimism as fight backs in the UK and other areas continue with workers taking on the rising cost of living and challenging the ongoing attacks of the ruling class. Indigenous struggles are leading the climate justice movement in this country, taking on the oil companies and the federal government. 
But we are also seeing the rise of the far right globally which showed its ugly face in the ‘Freedom Convoy’ which laid siege to the city of Ottawa for weeks. These forces are continuing to organize. 
We are facing economic and climate crises which are creating tremendous anxiety, alienation, and fear of what the future may bring. Many are being drawn to the simplistic solutions that the leaders of these far-right movements are putting forward. 
People are disappointed by the lack of fighting strategies by the trade union leadership and feel that their voices are not being heard. They are struggling to make ends meet and blame Trudeau and the Liberal government, and they see the New Democratic Party supporting the Liberals as no solution to the crisis. The only voices many of them hear are from the right and the far right with their lies and misinformation, scapegoating and building divisions.
The best way to fight the attacks and the economic hardship that so many are facing---the skyrocketing food prices, the huge raises in rent, the inability to buy a home, the privatization of health care, is through strong worker struggles and broad movements on the ground which represent the exploited and the oppressed. This would allow those being drawn to the right to see that it is the left that is mobilizing against Trudeau, Ford and other regressive governments and corporations. 
If we look at recent struggles we can see that sections of workers here are also on the move, feeling their own strength when they act collectively. A number of months ago tens of thousands of building trade members in Ontario went out across the province, shutting down hundreds of worksites for three weeks. These workers were hailed as leading the fight against the rising cost of living when number of local unions turned down tentative agreements negotiated by their leadership. The wage increases were less than they deserved yet they stayed out longer, gaining strong community support and won significant gains.
More recently 55,000 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) education workers defied an imposed contract and anti-strike legislation by walking out of their work places, courageously standing up against $4000 a day fines on each individual striker. The bullying tactics imposed by the anti-worker Tory government backfired. The stand by the strikers, strong solidarity by parents, students and other unions, and the calling of a general strike forced the government to eat humble pie and back down, rescinding the legislation. This brought incredible confidence to so many proving that collective actions can win. 
There are other examples of workers on the move. The victory by Amazon employees in Staten Island sparked union drives across Canada in Nisku, Alberta, Montreal, and in Ontario at ‘fulfillment centres’ in Milton, Cambridge, London and Kitchener. We have seen successful organizing at Starbucks in the US and Canada. The big three auto manufacturers are going into bargaining in the US as is UPS which potentially could be huge battles. We saw the anger at the leadership in the rail workers struggle south of the border. 
Fight backs against the privatization of health care by both unions and communities across the country are growing. In Ontario a broad based movement of environmentalists, local residents, housing advocates, unions and First Nations is taking on the provincial government opening up protected, environmentally sensitive land to help out their developer friends make huge profits. 
These are battles between the robbers and the robbed and they are gaining support. Though we have no crystal ball, it gives hope for a year of ongoing struggle. 

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