Your Saturday Listen: Paddy Crumlin on having courage through the storm

As Canadians gather this holiday weekend to share Thanksgiving meals, we’ll also be debating the kind of government we hope to secure in this month’s national elections. So it seems like a good time to post a Saturday Listen that offers the kind of rousing message of solidarity  that only Paddy Crumlin can deliver.

Crumlin is the the president of the ITF. The video is a short call to arms he offered on Sept. 26 in Liverpool, where workers were gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the dockers’ dispute . Two weeks ago, we wrote about Canada’s role in the legendary battle that eventually became the world’s longest picket line.

Paddy, of course,  was in Liverpool to do more than celebrate.

He was there to urge all working people to remember the “moral corruption behind the decision to attack those dockers, and that union.” And he was there to talk about “this storm that was coming then, and is still coming” — the thunderstorm of legal and corporate attacks on working people and, for those lucky enough to be organized, their unions.

The battle goes on in the U.K. Just last month, Britain’s Tory party passed a raft of anti-labour legislation that went far beyond anything Margaret Thatcher dreamed about. It’s happening in Canada too. The Harper government’s assault on our own workers and working families is lengthy: using cheap foreign labour to suppress Canadian wages, forcing an end to legal strikes, interfering in bargaining, imposing settlements, attacking equity work, forcing costly and unnecessary union disclosures, complicating the work of organizing itself… the list goes on and on.

But for all Paddy’s warnings at the Liverpool gathering, he reminded the crowd to celebrate the dockers anniversary too — because, as he says, the dispute had provided a moment for workers to “reclaim their institutions.”

To those involved in the dispute 20 years ago, he called it a reminder of the courage and determination they displayed. They taught other workers that “if you’re prepared to go out and fight for your rights, you’re an inspiration to others,” he said. “We want to reclaim this world — and you’ve given us the courage and determination to go forward.”

Paddy’s words seem to us like the perfect choice for a weekend when Canadians gather with friends and family from coast to coast to coast, to give thanks — and to weigh their choices about government, about the kind of communities and country we want to build, and about Canada’s place in world.

For our part, we will give thanks this weekend for the men and women who work at sea, making possible the trade that builds the world’s wealth. And to their families, who love and support them at such great cost too.


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