This Labour Day, Michelle Malette of Solidarity Halifax delivered the following speech to those assembled for the celebrations.
Solidarity Halifax is an anti-capitalist organization based here in the city. We see capitalism as an unjust economic system that puts profit ahead of the needs of people and the planet, and we promote strategies to oppose capitalism.
We stand in full support of unions and workers in their opposition to the McNeil Liberals. We see the McNeil Liberals as a party of the Employer Class, both of which must be confronted in our struggles for economic and social justice.
Right now, our struggle for economic justice is a struggle against Bill 148. This bill, among other things, imposes wage restraints on 75,000 public sector workers. The Liberals are trying to blame teachers, nurses, civil servants, and other public sector workers for the so-called ‘financial crisis’. But, we know that it’s not the wages of public sector workers that cause financial problems.
The real problem with our economy is that all of the wealth in our province is being increasingly given to the rich – to people like John Risley, the Sobeys, Ken Rowe, the Braggs, and the Jodreys… This is while workers’ wages are being frozen, while services like healthcare are increasingly underfunded, and while children grow up in poverty, etc.
Our struggles against the Employer Class need to escalate. Hosting rallies outside of Province House is a good experience for a lot of people. But, if we are serious about economic justice, the labour movement must also adopt tactics that are more strategic and more militant.
Those who have been on strike before will know that when all else fails, economic justice requires economic disruption. We are starting to see that all else has failed, and it’s time to explore next steps.
Our struggle for social justice is a struggle against the rise of the far-right and racism. The labour movement and working people have an important role in this.
The labour movement must call for full immigration status for anyone who is employed in Canada. This includes workers who come through the Temporary Foreign Worker program, and those who come on closed or open work permits.
The labour movement must defend our gains from the so-called ‘sharing economy’. Companies like Uber and Lyft drive down standards in the taxi industry, which provides relatively-better jobs to immigrants and workers of colour. We need to keep Uber and Lyft out of Nova Scotia.
Trade Unions and labour organizations must join the call to remove the statue of Edward Cornwallis. As we have seen in the US and Canada, statues of people like Cornwallis have been built and defended to keep power over BIPOC. These statues need to be taken down and replaced with those of real heroes, like Burnley “Rocky” Jones.
Trade Unions and labour organizations must contribute financially to Indigenous Land and Water Protectors, particularly Mi’kmaq people resisting the Alton Gas project. Mi’kmaq people of Sipekne’katik are leading a fight to defend the Shubenacadie River and the surrounding area from an oil and gas company from Alberta. The labour movement has the resources that they need to win this fight.
Finally, the labour movement must commit more to organizing the unorganized. This means unionizing more workers, but also organizing outside of that through campaigns like the Fight for $15. By doing this, the labour movement can once again become a fighting force in our schools, our workplaces, and our communities.
The best way to fight the right is to out-organize them. If you want to explore what that means, contact Solidarity Halifax. I believe a better world is possible. You’ve come here today, so I know you also believe a better world is possible.