Category Archives: Statements

Solidarity with the York University Food Workers!

Socialist Action fully supports the militant Aramark workers, members of Unite Here Local 75 at York University. We say: Working people make the country run. Working people should run the country!

Over 200 food service workers at York University went on one-day strike on February 2. A full strike next week is highly possible.

Striking workers say “enough is enough” to very long hours, in low-wage, precarious jobs, replete with racist harassment in their workplace. They demand what they deserve: respect and dignity at work, decent wages and benefits, and good working conditions. Aramark, the company sub-contracted by York University, dares to insist that $12 an hour is enough. The Aramark workers demand that the base rate be raised to $15 immediately.

To build support for the strike, students and other campus allies handed out thousands of fliers throughout out the day, and they launched the york15.ca website. A student organizer summarized it aptly: “Students and workers on campus are one. Workers impacted by poverty wages, by no benefits, by disrespect in the workplace, automatically impacts us as students because we are the future workers.” We agree totally.

Inequality continues to increase in Canada. Wealth concentrates at the top, while over 50% of workers in the GTA are trapped in precarious jobs. Debt is crushing the unemployed and working people. The burden of post-secondary school tuition fees and debt weighs heavily on students.

This situation is intolerable and it must end.

We support the Aramark workers’ demands, and add the following goals:

  • Smash the bosses’ agenda of precarious employment, low pay and social cuts! Money for jobs and education, not for war and police repression. Fight for economic democracy and socialism.
  • Common Front, General Strike, Workers’ Government! Build a common front. Follow the example of Aramark workers, students, and faculty at York University. The next step is to generalize the struggle across all sectors.
  • Challenge Labour and the NDP to fight the bosses’ agenda. Build a class struggle opposition inside the unions and the NDP. The top brass should stop apologizing for the NDP being a labour party and should defend the workers’ interests. With real wages frozen for over 30 years, workers need a raise. A minimum wage of $18/hour would be a good start. Fight for it.

This struggle can be won. Alone, an individual can do little. But the working class united can move mountains. Together we can create a world fit for humanity, fully in harmony with nature. It is the most worthwhile aim. Join us in the fight for workers’ power, eco-socialism and feminism.

647-728-9143 or 647-986-1917 | socialistactioncanada@gmail. com | www.socialistaction.ca

Photo by David Bush

 

The “New” European Reformism and the Failure of the Broad Left Party Strategy

by Bob Lyons
The capitulation of the SYRIZA government to the demands of European imperialism has sent shock waves across a wide section of the international Left for some very concrete and understandable reasons.
This left developed in an academic atmosphere, proclaiming a new kind of “21st century socialism”. The latter is a vague formula, filled by all types of outmoded ideas dressed up in new clothing, and presented with a large helping of caricature of Leninism dressed up as anti-authoritarianism, linked to a project of “building socialism from below”. Its promoters had high hopes in SYRIZA as a socialist party of a new type.

Continue reading The “New” European Reformism and the Failure of the Broad Left Party Strategy

When will they ever learn?

Once again, the leadership of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council and of several key union affiliates, is taking workers down the primrose path of liberal, middle class politics towards the October 2014 municipal election.
Rather than host a convention of labour activists and members of the labour-based New Democratic Party across Toronto and York Region to adopt platform policies and to select candidates to fight for a Labour City Hall, we see a relapse to the tactics that failed us in 2010.
The “Municipal Political Action Conference”, set for November 16, 2013 at 89 Chestnut Street, is “designed for everyone who plans to get involved in the 2014 Municipal/School Board elections”. That means regardless anyone’s policies and regardless their links to big business parties, like the Liberal Party, which bear responsibility for cutbacks, privatizing public services, giving tax breaks to the rich, and curtailing the right to strike.
It is quite revealing that the “Guest Speaker” at the Conference is Jeremy Bird, former National Field Director for the 2012 re-election Campaign of President Barack Obama. Obama is the chief executive tool of Wall Street who bailed out the world’s biggest criminal corporations. Obama wages endless wars of occupation around the world, propping up racist, sexist, homophobic rule abroad and at home.
What about Jeremy Bird? He was the target of a high profile protest, which forced him to cut short his speech at the NDP federal convention in Montreal in April 2013. It is shameful, and sadly indicative, that Toronto and York Region Labour Council officials would invite this ‘field director’ for the pro-austerity, big business, drone-wars regime in Washington.
The lessons of the failed David Miller mayorship and the feckless 2010 ‘labour’ municipal campaign are there for all to see. On the reverse side of this leaflet, read the analysis issued by Socialist Action in the immediate aftermath of the entirely preventable Rob Ford victory.
Instead of a multi-class, liberal smorgasbord of candidates and policies, labour needs an election team that demands: free public transit, a major expansion of the rapid transit system, reverse the cutbacks and privatization, build quality social housing to curb homelessness, and to fund this agenda, tax the developers, big business, the banks, religious institutions, and the rich.
stubbornRemember the old adage: The first time you fool me, shame on you. The second time you fool me, shame on me.
Don’t be fooled again. Protest the invitation of US Democratic Party imperialist hack Jeremy Bird. No support for Liberal, Conservative, Green Party, or ‘independent’ candidates. Turn the Political Action Conference into a policy-making, candidate selection gathering aimed at fighting for, and winning a Workers’ Government at City Hall in 2014.
Join Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste
visit: www.socialistaction.ca phone: 416-535-8779
What led to Rob Ford’s win?
The ‘realistic left’ at Toronto City Hall blew it. Thanks to them, the municipal election was a write-off.
By pandering to big developers and the rich, by targeting civic workers instead of tax-withholding banks, by hiking user fees (and politicians’ perks) while slashing community services, David Miller and company pushed tens of thousands of working people into the boa constrictor-like embrace of Rob Ford and George Smitherman.
Joe Pantalone, the hapless apologist for the Liberal-NDP coalition government, Joe ‘Pants’, the Bob Rae of City Council, alienated his base and deprived voters of a principled, independent working class alternative to the big business right wing, right from the start.
Many unionists and progressives in Canada’s biggest city were stunned by the scope of the victory of right wing populist Councillor Rob Ford in the race for mayor. Equally disturbing, an increased number of Ford-like labour-haters captured seats on Toronto City Council on October 25 — possibly enough to fashion a voting majority to implement an agenda of severe social and culture cuts, plus privatization and contracting-out measures.
The turnout of 52 per cent of eligible voters, compared to 39 per cent in 2006, rewarded candidates who promised “change”. Ford received 47 per cent of the votes cast. Former Ontario Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman, running on a similar programme of austerity and privatization, got 36 per cent.
Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, propped up by a disintegrating band of labour tops and fellow Councillors, came third with 12 per cent.  Pantalone helped to steer the informal Liberal Party-New Democratic Party coalition that ran Toronto City Hall for seven years. That regime not only raised taxes and increased user fees while reducing public services. It forced 30,000 municipal workers into a bitter 40 day strike over wages and pensions. It abused workers and whetted the appetite of the corporate elite for more labour concessions.
A stormy period of clashes over the fate of city jobs and services is now in store. Hopefully, there will be mass resistance to the corporate agenda. If there is, it may hasten the realization that unions must break with the Liberals and fight for an up-front NDP-Labour slate of candidates committed to socialist policies prior to the next municipal vote in 2014.
How can this be done? Long before the next city election, after voters have digested the bitter fruit of opportunism, it will be time to return to the future. Labour and the NDP should convene a broad, mass, participatory convention to fashion a socialist platform and select candidates who can be held accountable to it, to run for all municipal offices. Just as the NDP and labour did in the 1960s and 70s, before the left-populism of Sewell and Crombie dulled our senses and muddled the class line at City Hall, a workers’ slate can be built again.
Union activists: Demand that independent working class party politics be reintroduced to the municipal arena. Fight for electoral reform, including preferential ballots.Give workers a real choice. Otherwise, the tragedy of October 25 will become a permanent farce – at the expense of the working class and our urban environment.

Hands Off SAIA! Defend Free Speech! Support the BDS Campaign!

York University’s administration punished Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) for holding a rally on March 27 to demand divestment from Israeli Apartheid. York U Security also asked an alumnus and member of SAIA to leave the protest at Vari Hall and threatened to arrest him if he didn’t. In addition, SAIA’s club status “has been revoked until January 2014 following the Vari Hall demonstration in March” as reported in Excalibur, York University’s community newspaper.

In response to these sanctions, Youth for Socialist Action (YSA) joins The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), and the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA), which have all condemned the York University administration. We call on the administration to amend University policies which pose a threat to free speech, particularly the Senate Policy on Disruptive and/or Harassing Behaviour in Academic Situations, the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and the Temporary Use of University Space policy.

YSA is a firm supporter of the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel. We demand that York University stop investing in repression, occupation and war crimes, and to stop violating freedom of expression on campus.

As a socialist and internationalist organization, YSA affirms that socialists have a further responsibility to present a cogent analysis of the current situation in its global context, and to advance a programme in the strategic interests of all working people. In this sense, the starting point for a programme for peace with social justice in the Middle East is the end of the apartheid Zionist state, and the revolutionary transformation of all the Arab regimes. For the Palestinians, the proposed “two state solution” is simply a call for an old-style South Africa Bantustan-type arrangement – consisting of large, impoverished, concentration camps of Palestinians surrounded by powerful Zionist armed forces. We support the right of Palestinians to establish a state on any part of their territory, whatever its limitations, and to continue the fight for full national emancipation. This is a basic, democratic stance, without which social progress is impossible.

We further seek to

  • Educate and mobilize public opinion to oppose Israel’s military aggression against the Palestinians. Confront and expose the myths about Zionism offering a safe haven for world Jewry. Refuse to submit to intimidation by pro-Zionist organizations and business media. Conduct seminars and teach-ins, and seek opportunities to speak to labour, NDP and community organizations.
  • Challenge the partnership of the Canadian government and big business with the Israeli state and economy. Ottawa’s policy is now the most blatantly pro-Zionist in the world. Challenge Canada’s complicity with United States’ domination of the Middle East.
  • Demand implementation of an immediate international embargo on investment, trade and arms shipments to Israel – to be lifted only when the Zionist state ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories, dismantles the Apartheid wall and the Zionist settlements, halts its military aggression, recognizes the right of return of all Palestinian refugees, pays reparations to refugees and victims of Israeli state violence, ends discrimination against non-Jews inside Israel, and recognizes the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and an independent state.
  • Organize a broadly based, mass action-oriented, democratic alliance of all groups and individuals willing to fight for peace with social justice in Palestine. Action must include solidarity with the mass protest movement of the victims of Zionist aggression. It is wrong to subordinate the freedom struggle of the Palestinians to the so-called ‘unity’ of the Israeli working class, much of which is imbued with chauvinist prejudice. In recent years Israeli unions hold general strikes against social cutbacks and the lack of housing, but include right wing settler groups and refuse to discuss the plight of Palestinians. We insist it is wrong to oppose the global BDS campaign on the claim that it is ‘divisive’, as some ‘leftist’ groups argue. Unity in action for social justice should be based on a concrete programme of democratic demands, including the ones stated above. On this basis, a broad movement for justice and solidarity can be built, reaching out beyond the Canadian Arab and Jewish communities, and mobilizing allies in the unions and the organizations of feminists, seniors, environmentalists, students, immigrants, civil libertarians, visible minorities and international solidarity activists.

Unity in action of Palestinian and Israeli workers – against national oppression – is a prerequisite to a Democratic, Secular Palestine, which is likewise a precondition to ending the bloodshed, repression and injustice that torment the peoples of the region. Unity in solidarity action with the Palestinian people, across the Canadian state and around the world, is a critical step towards that goal.

Youth for Socialist Action
for more information: http://www.socialistaction.ca/ysa