Dave Coles CEP Presidents speech to April CAW Council

Port Elgin, ON

April 14, 2012

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CAW Labour Day 2011
CAW Council
April 13&14, 2012

Port Elgin, Ontario
April 14, 2012

Dave Coles
CEP President

"I am extremely humbled by having the opportunity to speak to you today but also to be in the presence of such great rank and file trade unionists, you do us all proud. But brothers and sisters I can tell you that when Ken Lewenza talks about the threat to civil society and the labour movement under a Harper government, he is not exaggerating. Our very existence as a labour movement is under threat with the Harper government and we cannot allow it to happen. We have an opportunity here to make significant change. To change the way that the labour movement works in this country.

Capitalism is not new it is old, but it has not been this mean and aggressive for fifty, sixty, seventy years, pre second world war. It has come back with such a vengeance and so hurtful and we must change to ensure that the response from workers is not only heard but is victorious. It is not just the power of our two unions. What we are attempting to do here is harvest the power of all the workers of Canada. So that when we speak we speak with one voice. To ensure that our agenda is the agenda of the governments of the day and not the agenda of the corporate elite. Our plan, the grand plan is that workers will be able to unite behind this new union project to be able to express their needs and desires, so that they can raise their families with dignity and respect. I've got to tell you that is no coincidence that many discussions are going on around the world about this issue of concentrating the power of workers.

The CAW and CEP belong to two significant GUFs, Global Union Federations. A lot of our members belong to the ICEM, that is the Chemical Energy and Mining Workers and a lot of the auto workers sector belong to the International Metalworkers Federation. This June those two federations will merge together to create "IndustriAll". Fiftyfive million workers under the same flag. These global federations, many of them are on the ground, backing up workers who are in dispute, they are organizing, they are fighting global trade and they are absolutely an integral part of our voice around the world. Just to give you an example, we have now signed in the CEP an arrangement with the Energy workers of Norway, Energy it is called and why did we do that? Because these brothers and sister have the biggest block of organized offshore workers in the world, they are experts in their field and the state owned oil company Statroil is opening up major operations in Canada and they have committed to help us organize those workers. So international politics are going to have to play a huge part in our new union and it is without any hesitation that we have to put to rest that issue that working internationally is not a bread and butter lunch kit issue for our members right here in Canada.

Look what happened at Caterpillar and you quickly understand you must work internationally or you are absolutely going to be by yourselves. I am pumped about the future of our new union project. It will be difficult in both organizations to deal with what our histories and our pasts were and nobody suggests that we should forget where we came from. We've got local unions in our union that have had certifications for one hundred and forty years, some of the print locals. Some of the earliest organized units in Canada came out of the print sector. But those brothers and sisters I can tell you are absolutely pumped about the concept of a new union. They are not going to forget where they came from, they know who they are. They are not worried about being taken over by someone. They understand the premise that together we can win but divided we lose. This new union project is going to succeed and we are going to win. The politics of this country has to change and it has been tasked to us to do it. It is our game to win. Lets win it. Thank you very much."

CAW Making A Difference.

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