On July 5, 2014, the WNSG tabled at the “Building a People’s Agenda” event which was organized by the Winnipeg Social Forum. Ben Zorn, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Winnipeg, (who also gave a presentation at a WNSG event), delivered a speech on workers uniting in struggle against global capitalism. Check out the full speech below!
Fellow workers, comrades!
I bring greetings from over 1500 members of CUPW working in Winnipeg, Selkirk and SW Manitoba, all on Treaty One Land.
Why are we here? Why has this group of excellent people gathered today?
It is because we are concerned for the very future of humanity and the ability of planet to continue to support our existence. And why are we concerned? Why such doom and gloom? Each of us brings to the table a piece of a puzzle that unto itself would be easily explained away as not so dramatic as to warrant proclamations from a union hack that the end is nigh: concerns over access to drinking water, housing for the poor, labour rights, oil pipelines, or health care…. Each concern unto itself can be rationalized and compartmentalized as being able to be resolved with the right piece of public policy, or piece of market driven technology, can it not? Arguably….
But I think we are here because these concerns of ours, these issues, we all recognize that they are not stand alone issues. They are not anomalies. But they are integral parts of a concerted attack against Earth and humanity. Yes, attack. An act of war by the wealthy and powerful minority with the goal to exploit greater riches for themselves. An act of plunder and self serving greed, propped up by states, governments and a corporate economic system to serve those goal.
Consider the attacks in Canada that we face as trade unionists, as the working class, as human beings; attacks by corporations and the Conservative government; attacks on health care funding; pensions, worker’s rights. Attacks on the environment with lax laws and no willingness to address the degradation of oil and gas extraction. Hell, Stephen Harper attacks even the soldiers that will fight his wars for him, slashing Veterans Affairs offices. Consider the ending of door to door mail delivery, the reason provided by Canada post is simply to kill 8000 decent paying jobs in Canada and offload the final leg of delivery to unpaid, non voluntary workers: the people that use the service.
This gives me an opportunity speak to my compartmentalized issue: Canada Post, a federal Crown Corporation, announced on December 11 its intention to end delivery to the door entirely in the next five years. Steven Harper and his cronies have voiced their support for this initiative. In Winnipeg we anticipate the loss of 250 positions. The loss of 250 decently paid jobs with benefits. Jobs that pay well enough to buy a home, feed a family, send our kids to school. And why? Purely ideological reasons. Canada Post has been profitable for 17 of the past 18 years… not that crown corporations have ever needed to be profitable. This essential public service is just not making enough money for Harper and his cronies, so what do they do? They attack workers and the public in order to continue to subsidize the needs of large corporate mailers. Shame, I say. This is OUR Postal service. We own it as the people living in Canada and it should serve the needs of all, not the few!
And here we have it. This is not just intentional. It is required for the economic system that we live under in order for that economic system to survive. It is an economic system that is premised on the exploitation of human beings, animals, and the very air we breathe for its survival. And at risk of being labeled an “old left winger” I will name it here: Global Capitalism!
Yes, friends, that which must no longer be named in finer circles is the very root of our collective concern here today.
But what is to be done?
I will start by speaking to my concern, and what we as Postal Workers are doing in response:
Postal workers have come out fighting. Since December in Winnipeg we have gathered signatures of thousands of people opposed to these changes and sent them to Parliament. We’ve gathered in minus 35 degree weather at the legislative grounds with hundreds of supporters to protest. Supporters from unions, and advocacy organizations, the progressive movement and left thinking political representatives. Genuine community support for public service.
Our members have organized to mass deliver messages and information to over thirty thousand households including the 12500 that will be first affected by the loss of door to door delivery this October 20. And we, as workers, are committed to continue to deliver mail to the door post October 20 as well.
But what of the big picture? What of our joint concerns?
First and foremost we must all recognize that your struggle and my struggle are really our struggle. We have one enemy. That which must not be named: global capitalism.
We must organize ourselves, the working class, human beings, in direct struggle with the forces in society that will exploit us to no end. As workers, trade unionists, we cannot wait for the next round of bargaining to give us relief to the injustices of the workplace, we must always be vigilant, active and organized on the work floor, nor can we as human beings hope that some benevolent government will take mercy on us and treat us more fairly throw us better scraps from global capitalism, nor can we anticipate that soon the corporate elite will do the right thing by the environment. No. We must be organized and mobilized. And we must fight back directly.
We need feet in the street. We must be a force that cannot be ignored or funnelled into some endless legal system.
We can do this. And we have demonstrated this today by coming together here. We start with organizing in our communities in Winnipeg, and Portage, Opaskwayak and The Pas. WE move on to Ottawa, and join with our allies and fellow people around the world, and once we are a movement that cannot be stopped, the right movement, a true movement, a movement of the people, we transform society into one based not on greed, oppression, and exploitation, but one of community, solidarity and equality. That is our task here today.
Sisters and Brothers, Fellow Workers, Comrades We are our own liberators, lets get to work.