Resolution adopted by the Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada, Nov. 28, 2010
The lockout of 900 Steelworkers in Hamilton, which began on Nov. 7, is much more than a local struggle. U.S. Steel wants to shut down production in Hamilton, and seeks to force USW Local 1005 members and 9,000 retirees to switch to a market‑based defined contribution pension plan rather than the established defined benefit plan. But the stakes are high for all workers, and for the future of Canada.
This attack is the latest expression of a global offensive by big capital against the working conditions, wages, pensions and quality of life won over generations by the working class. This bitter struggle has spanned centuries, with roots in the original accumulation of capital, the formation of colonial empires, and the industrial revolution, and later the victories won by socialism over fascism and imperialism during the 20th century.
Today, the global freedom of capital to move across borders is destroying the real economy of entire nations, impoverishing millions of workers. Whatever markets exist for real goods rest on a credit bubble that has swelled family debts (exclusive of real estate) to 1.5 times annual family income in Canada. The flow of capital, away from the production of real goods or the renewal of productive forces, has created a financial casino economy, where the parasitical trade in debt and fictitious paper value sits like a giant inverted triangle on the lives of workers, public property and social programs.
For transnational capital, this war requires the acquisition of Canadian resources, productive plant, and transportation. The Canadian capitalist class have fattened themselves for decades on the proceeds of this treacherous sellout of Canada’s sovereignty. The next stage is to destroy the social life and conditions of Canadian workers, who are the last barrier to the complete plunder of the economy and the ecology.
The attacks on public sector workers by the provincial governments, the theft of their wages and benefits, and the transfer of public wealth into corporate coffers through tax breaks, is part of this stage of the offensive. So were the recent attacks on autoworkers and on Vale‑Inco workers. Cheered by the Harper government’s reward to Vale in the form of a billion dollar loan, U.S. Steel has launched its attack on USW Local 1005, eagerly choosing the lockout tactic to get the action started sooner. U.S. Steel wears the arrogance of privilege like armour which gives it immunity from its violation of the conditions of its purchase of Stelco, conditions which the Harper government refuses to enforce. This must not be allowed!
The Hamilton Steelworkers, as they have done since their historic strike of 1946, have thrown down the gauntlet. This cannot become another Sudbury ‑ a tactic of “who will last longer” will not bring victory against another giant transnational. This struggle requires fleet footwork and heavy counter‑punching, and this is the part of Ontario where the battlefield favours the workers. Everything needed to fight is here, including working class traditions and a local political environment which opposes U.S. Steel’s destructive attacks. What is left of the Ontario industrial heartland cradles Hamilton. Most of the CAW membership is within 100 kilometres. Thousands of industrial workers can reach the picket lines within hours. The catalyst, the muscle, the heart and soul are here to achieve victory over U.S. Steel.
The Communist Party of Canada urges full support for USW Local 1005 in its fight to end the lockout, and to defend workers’ pensions and their community. The future of Canada’s industrial economic base and sovereignty also make it urgent to fight for public ownership and democratic control of the steel industry.
We call on the Ontario trade union movement to close ranks and join this fight, and to rally the labour movement across Canada. With unity and more unity, this crucial struggle can be won!