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- Youth take back their future in this year’s Roots Rhymes and Resistance
- Youth and young workers prepare to confront current manifestations of globalization’s neoliberal agenda in Canada at upcoming conference
- Cosmetic reforms to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program a disservice to all workers in Canada
- Wage the working class struggle: Onwards with the fight against neoliberalism
- Filipino janitorial and maintenance workers triumph over deportation threat in Halifax
- Conference Announcement: “Making the Youth Count in Canada’s Future: The Struggle of Young Workers in the Age of Austerity and Neoliberal Globalization”
- Harper government’s scapegoating of RBC: a futile attempt at washing their hands clean of anti-worker agenda
- Film Screening: “My Folks: Building a Home in Canada”
- 2013 federal budget takes sacrificial approach in economic development at the expense of human development
Workers gathered to advance the movement for genuine social change at national conference “Workers’ Struggles Amidst Neoliberal Globalization”
Day 1: Workers Struggles Amidst Neoliberal Globalization, a set on Flickr.
Toronto, ON— This past 11th and 12th of August, over 100 participants gathered for “Workers’ Struggles Amidst Neoliberal Globalization,” a national workers’ conference organized by the Counterspin secretariat, a formation of the Congress of Progressive Filipino Canadians (CPFC) and its allies. The highly-successful conference heightened the unity and militancy required of all those within the broad struggle of the working class who face the ongoing, worldwide crisis of neoliberalism. It provided participants with a vital understanding of their conditions as workers along with a concrete vision of how to transform those conditions. Held at the United Steelworkers Hall in Toronto, the two-day event brought out the need to transform the current crisis into an opportunity by building a truly progressive movement for social change in Canada and beyond.
Aimed at deepening participants’ understanding of the historic role of the working class in bringing about alternatives to the crisis of capitalism through the process of social transformation, the conference’s panel presentations incited critical discussion regarding: the global and Canadian situation, the struggles and resistance of transnational communities, international solidarity amongst the working class, and its future as a major force in global revolutionary movements. An open discussion and assessment wereas held during the second day to forge genuine solidarity, by transforming discussion into collective action. Finally, a cultural solidarity night, partnered with multimedia presentations, also enlivened the gathering’s proceedings and expressed a spirit of resistance and militancy.
In a world wracked by devastating bouts of economic crisis, it is imperative for workers to take collective action based on a firm grasp of their current social reality. “The solution,” noted long-time human rights activist and panel speaker Emmanuel Sayo, “is in the problem itself.” Drawn from the living knowledge of social movements, particularly the over two decades-long history of the progressive Filipino Canadian movement and its allies, an essential snapshot of the current global and Canadian political economy was provided by the conference’s various panels, discussions, and solidarity performances.
As discussed in the conference, our most basic and common issues are concrete expressions of capitalism’s ongoing drive for endless accumulation and heightened competition, which subjects workers to a state of “permanent impermanence” and pits them against each other. Neoliberal globalization has not only produced transnational capital, but has also produced a transnational working class of both migrants and immigrants. In this context, the conference established a unified understanding of Canada’s role as an imperialist country, its attendant economic needs, and the resistance being waged by people all over the world. This provided participants with a roadmap of their role in challenging and transforming these conditions.
The constellation of struggles discussed in the conference—the oppression and exploitation of migrants and immigrants in Canada and the US, of seasonal agricultural workers, of contract healthcare and service workers, of workers in the Third World that toil in multinational corporations, of students and young workers, issues of disability and mental health—were contextualized as particular struggles faced by all workers under neoliberal globalization and pinpointed to the necessity of a common front that comprehensively addresses these issues as part of the overall working class struggle.
In providing an understanding of our conditions and of potential avenues for change, the conference also provided a critical perspective of the Canadian state and its role in implementing neoliberal policies that facilitate private accumulation, such as: the expansion of temporary migration, cutbacks and other austerity measures, labour flexibilization, and the masking of racism through “multiculturalism.” Mass-oriented struggles against such globally-implemented neoliberal policies were also discussed with the objective of heightening participants’ international solidarity. In speaking first of struggles occurring in the Third World, such as those in Hanjin’s Philippine shipyards, Pete Pinlac, Chairperson of the MAKABAYAN trade union centre, revealed the current state of the Philippines as a neocolonial state lacking in economic infrastructure needed to absorb its labour force, and also that force’s ongoing struggle for genuine democracy.
The actions taken by different social movements in Canada, the Philippines, the US and El Salvador were shared in the conference. These served to challenge participants to go beyond “satellite activism” and mechanically transposing the experiences and analyses of “elsewhere” movements, as the greatest and fullest expression of genuine international solidarity is in the resistance against neoliberal globalization based on our own realities as workers in the country that we currently find ourselves in. “The challenge,” affirmed panel speaker Chris Vance, an activist and doctoral student from York University, “is now to advance anti-capitalism, given this is our base to develop a society worth living in.”
Beyond simply providing an understanding of neoliberalism, the conference also challenged participants to heighten their individual and collective agencies towards the ultimate task of building a movement for social change. As shared by panelist Cecilia Diocson, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada, amidst the all challenges that workers currently face, there is a need to build on our revolutionary traditions and institutions by “embracing them, to strengthen our resolve.” Concrete suggestions and ideas for next steps, as well as sharing past models for change, were contributed throughout the weekend as expressions of the need to continue building genuine solidarity amongst the working class and for the sake of future generations.
“Workers’ Struggles Amidst Neoliberal Globalization” was a historic conference that successfully advanced the resolve of all participants to confront the serious, systematic struggles of workers with the greatest militancy, creativity and dynamism needed to advance the movement for social change, as part of the working class in Canada and all over the world.
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