Thousands Demonstrate to Save GM Oshawa Truck Plant
May 17, 2008
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"Which side are you on? Which side are you on? They say in Durham region a deal is a deal. You're either for the union or a low down laughing stock. Which side are you on? Which side are you on?"
From across Canada the labour movement, activists and politicians joined the fight to save the GM truck plant in Oshawa. On June 12th, thousands of demonstrators marched in what the union is calling a "walkcade" at the General Motors car and truck plant complex in Oshawa. Their anger over GM's decision to close the truck plant next year after promising in writing to put the new hybrid truck in that facility was clear according to Carol Phillips, assistant to CAW President Buzz Hargrove.
Assistant to CAW President
"Your fight is our fight. Make no mistake about that sisters and brothers. There are locals here from across the country from coast to coast to coast; not only within the Canadian Auto Workers, but through out the labour movement because this fight must be won."
"You have inspired us. You have taken on a corporate giant. You have walked right up to their front door. You have hammered on it and you have demanded justice. And the whole world is watching. The whole world is watching and you are making history today"
Politicians from Ottawa and Queens Park joined the workers march in solidarity including Peggy Nash, NDP MP, and Howard Hampton leader of the Ontario NDP.
Parkdale-High Park NDP MP
"This is a fight that is being waged, not just for Oshawa but for our entire country. Our schools, our healthcare system, our communities depend on good paying jobs. We don't want a cheap job strategy. We don't want a low wage strategy. We want our children to have the opportunity to support themselves and their families when they are ready to join the work force. That's what you are fighting for. Keep up the struggle."
Ontario NDP Leader
"It seems to me that political leaders have a choice. They can ride with GM or walk with the workers. And we are proud to walk with the workers today."
While the workers were marching in the streets of Oshawa, Chris Buckley was in court fighting the companies bid to get an injunction against the blockade.
CAW Local 222 President
"It's anybody's guess what the outcome will be at the end of the proceedings today. But make no mistake; make no mistake about what we have done over the last nine days. We not only woke up General Motors, we woke up an entire nation, brothers and sisters!"
In the end General Motors got its injunction but not without being chastised by Justice David Salmers. He ruled that "considering all the evidence, including but not restricted to the deceit-like behaviour that induced CAW concessions and the almost immediate breach, without apology, of a newly signed collective agreement, I find without hesitation that GM Canada does not come to court with clean hands."
Judge Salmers did however grant the injunction because it would cause irreparable harm to GM not to.
The CAW has agreed to honour the injunction but the fight is far from over according to Greg Moffatt, GM Oshawa truck plant chair.
Oshawa GM Truck Plant Chair
"The workers in this plant understand all the challenges that General Motors is facing today. And we have earned the right to lead the way and not be thrown away."
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."