First Published: In Struggle! No. 174, October 2, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In British Columbia, fifty hospital workers recently gathered to demonstrate against staff cutbacks at New Westminster’s Royal Columbia Hospital (RCH). Four IN STRUGGLE! militants joined the picket line and began distributing copies of our newspaper. No sooner had they started than an official of the Hospital Employees Union ac-costed them, saying, “Get that newspaper out of here, we know about IN STRUGGLE!, you’re nothing but a bunch of spliters and wreckers. You’re not supporting our struggle anyways, all you came here for was to sell your newspaper.”
One and a half months earlier, IN STRUGGLE! militants incurred the wrath of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) labour bosses at a Surrey local union meeting where a strike vote was being held. They were ordered off the premises, newspapers were stripped out of distributors’ hands and two militants were threatened with violence. The head goon called on workers to “reject ultra-left and extremist garbage”, and told them that “union executive members did not want that paper around”.
These attacks are not coming from where one might expect, namely the ruling elite of the trade-union movement, the so-called right-wing social democrats. No, they are coming from the loyal opposition, the Communist Party of Canada. These so-called “champions of workers rights”, who don’t have a democratic bone in their body, were demanding that workers give the papers back to our distributors or throw them away. What ever happened to freedom of the press, Mr. Kashtan?
What are the CP labour bosses afraid of? Well, at the CUPE meeting they were afraid that they were going to be outflanked by militants in the union. They realized that rank-and-file workers had responded positively to IN STRUGGLE!’s supplement on public sector workers three days earlier, and were afraid they would vote to reject the contract.
The actions of these CP labour bosses expose and discredit revisionism. They show that behind the rhetoric of its defence of workers’ demands, it sides in daily struggles with the capitalist class to slow down or bottle up the sentiment of militant workers that says we must fight now.
In a typical example of capitulation, the Pacific Tribune identified as a victory the recent memorandum of agreement accepted by the British Columbia Government Employees Union (BCGEU) leadership. “BCGEU Contract Wins 30 Percent,” stated the front page article in the August 31 issue of this Communist Party weekly. In fact, BCGEU workers won nothing. Inflation Is running 10% or better and the contract gives 8% per year increases over a three-year contract. So the workers will be taking wage cuts each year.
But their revisionist mudslinging and scare tactics do not work. More and more militants in the trade-union movements are seeing this capitulation for what it is, and are responding to IN STRUGGLE!’s calls and literature. At the RCH demonstration, attended by 50 workers, 35 newspapers were distributed. And at the CUPE meeting, 70 papers and 12 programmes were distributed and 12 signatures were obtained for the Declaration from the 500 workers present.