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M. Quarter

The Fight for Militant Unions in Canada

(October 1932)

Letters from the Militants, The Militant, Vol. V No. 40, 1 October 1932, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

TORONTO. – A most important opportunity is opening up for the Left wing in Canada, in the present growing national movement at revolt of the trade unionists against the corrupt, degenerated A.F. of L. unions. Amongst the miners, clothing workers, cloakmakers, furriers, building trade workers, etc., etc., the cry is for united struggles against the worsening conditions and for new militant unions that will fight.

For us of the Left wing one of the outstanding features of the present revolt movement is the growing contradictions between the Stalinist policies and the requirements of the arising situations. The official Left wing under the leadership of the Workers Unity League is paying a very heavy price for the 3rd period policies of adventure and sectarianism of the past few years, in the lack of confidence of the workers in their Industrial Unions.

Was it an accident that the revolt of over 3,000 Montreal tailors should break out as a spontaneous movement and not under the leadership of the official Left wing? Had the W.U. Industrial Unions carried their analysis and policies to logical conclusions they should have condemned and fought the revolt movement which had refused to hand over hegemony to them. This they tried at first to do but the resentment of the Montreal tailors in general and particularly the Left wing was so great that the mass meeting called by the W.U. industrial union was cancelled.

The obvious contradictions and falseness of the policies of the Workers Unity League have not passed without sharp fermentation and dissatisfaction in the Toronto and Montreal industrial unions and Worker Unity Leagues. The organizer of the industrial Union in Montreal had to be recalled. In order to pacify the disquiet amongst the Industrial Union members in Toronto it was found necessary to send a delegation of the Left wing tailors to investigate the struggle of the Montreal tailors and report back. Further and more important, there took place in Toronto and for the first time in Canada a grouping of Industrial Union and Worker Unity League members for Leninist policies in the trade unions.

Vacillations, more vacillations and still more vacillations, have marked the policies of the Workers Unity League. It has become common talk “that the W.U.L. leaders no longer believe in their own policies but have to stick by the false decisions of the last R.I.L.U. Congresses.”

Needless to say the Toronto Left Opposition has come in support of that group of members of the Workers Unity League and Industrial Unions who have opened up the struggle for the Leninist program. The birth of the progressive Left wing fraction was marked by sharp clashes with the Industrial Union leaders. The various attempts to disrupt the meeting of the Progressive Left wing fraction despite temporary success will finally fall to the ground. The members are determined to carry on to victory.

Shop meetings of Left wing workers called by the W.U. Industrial Unions have failed to record support to the present policies. At the ———— shop where the Progressive L.W.F. had called a meeting of the Left wing workers, the Industrial Union leader who had come down and distributed copies of the Kamf which contained the attack against the Left Opposition and the “former Left wing workers” was sharply criticized by the workers. In other shops the Left wing workers have asked the Progressive left wing fraction to call them to meetings.

It is necessary that this new movement in the Workers Unity League for Leninist trade union policies should not be localized. Contacts have been established in other parts of the country. There exists today the basis for a national movement.

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Last updated: 17 April 2015