On January 23, Unifor members in Ontario and Quebec rallied for worker’s rights and good jobs as they took action to oppose the new Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and to call for a better North American Free Trade Agreement.
The day began as hundreds of members took to the streets of Montreal in the March for a Better NAFTA, which included a demo in front of the hotel where round six of NAFTA renegotiations are currently underway. The marchers, led by National President Jerry Dias and Quebec Director Renaud Gagné, sent the Canadian government a clear message that the needs of workers, labour rights, and the protection of good jobs must be the key priorities in all international trade agreements.
“The Canadian government must stand firm,” Dias told the marchers. “Trade deals are about working class people. Whether it’s NAFTA or the TPP labour standards must be the number one issue at the table.”
The marchers represented a variety of sectors targeted by U.S. trade attacks, including paper, softwood, manufacturing, and aerospace.
“We will not let Trump destroy our economy and our jobs,” said Gagné. “We must continue our mobilization. I am confident that together we will make a difference.”
The surprise announcement of the signing of the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) was condemned both in Montreal and also in Windsor where almost 100 members rallied at a Ford plant where Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne cancelled a scheduled visit at the last minute.
“He signs a deal that compromises auto workers directly and can’t even show up to his commitment and look us in the face,” said John D’Agnolo, President of Unifor Local 200. “Is this the kind of transparency that the Liberals are offering?”
Unifor firmly denounced the new CPTPP in a statement calling it “a slap in the face to the trade union and civil society activists around the world who have spent decades pursuing an alternative, more humane model for truly progressive international trade and development.”