The Militant (logo) 
   Vol.65/No.20            May 21, 2001 
Communist League fields meat packer in May 16 British Columbia elections
VANCOUVER, British Columbia--"Our campaign aims to present a fighting, working-class voice against the assault of the bosses and their government on our wages, unions, and democratic rights," said Joe Young, the Communist League candidate in the May 16 British Columbia provincial elections. Young, a meat packer, is running in Vancouver-Langara.

Young has joined rallies and picket lines of 3,000 bus drivers, mechanics, and clerical workers on strike, and meat packers at Fletcher's Fine Foods and Superior Poultry. "At the center of our campaign is discussing with working people involved in such fights how we can utilize the potential power of our unions to better defend working people from the assaults of the ruling rich," Young said in an interview.

The Communist League candidate explained that the unions need not only to build solidarity with all striking workers but also to champion the interests of all of the oppressed and exploited. "The labor movement should oppose the rulers' campaign against Chinese immigrants," he stressed. "We should demand the deportations cease and those who were jailed be released," he said.

Young also called on working people to oppose the call by the Liberal party for a British Columbia–wide referendum on Native treaty rights. "This is a thinly veiled attack on the right of Native people to national self-determination. It goes hand in hand with the federal government's refusal to recognize the right of the Quebecois to freely decide their own future, for example, through organizing a referendum on Quebec independence."

A struggle against the bosses and the capitalist government in Canada, Young said, can only be victorious if it also opposes imperialist war and aggression around the world, and builds solidarity with battles of workers and farmers in other countries. This is true from defending China's workers and peasants against U.S. military probes and aggression to supporting the Palestinians fighting for national self-determination against the brutality of the Israeli capitalist regime.  
Revolutionary perspectives
"Our campaign points to the necessity and the possibility for workers and farmers in Canada to build a mass social movement capable of waging a victorious revolutionary struggle to establish a workers and farmers government and join the international fight for socialism," the Communist League candidate said.

Young announced his campaign at an April 20 Militant Labour Forum here that featured workers involved in several of the important struggles in the area.

"I am happy to have a place like this where I can talk to people so that if what happened to us happens to you, you will know what to do," said Ian McLean, a picket captain during the almost eight-month lockout at Fletcher's Fine Foods. Two other workers from Fletcher's attended the meeting, along with four other meat packers and a striking bus driver.

McLean reviewed the drive by the meat packing companies in Canada for concessions over the last few years, including at Maple Leaf, Quality Meats, and Smithfield. "They have all gotten together," he said. Workers at Fletcher's "were the last step."

During the lockout workers leafleted supermarkets like Safeway, encouraging people not to buy Fletcher's products. According to McLean, "We had to leaflet and take away customers from the company. It was the only way we could get out and be understood. People were very receptive to our struggle. They knew that Safeway and other companies have been bringing in the two-tier system" where new hires are paid less than other employees.

Chris Symes, a striking bus driver, said the transit company is demanding the union agree to a three-tier wage structure, which would weaken and divide the union. Symes asked "if there is a kernel of a political organization" that workers can support in the British Columbia elections May 16.

Communist League member Steve Penner, one of the panelists, said the New Democratic Party (NDP), a party based on the unions, "is the one mass party not owned and controlled by big business. By voting NDP workers and farmers can express their opposition to the bosses' parties. At the same time the NDP is a party whose leadership and program supports capitalism."

Penner pointed to the Communist League election campaign in the provincial election as " the only campaign that helps advance the fights of working people while pointing to the need to transform the unions into more effective weapons of struggle. In the process we will lay the basis for a mass movement that can fight to establish a government of workers and farmers, as Cuba's working people did through their socialist revolution."

At the end of the forum McLean pointed out how workers at Fletcher's have changed. "Before in the plant there were many nationalities. They would go to lunch and speak their own language. People were separate and not talking to each other. Now we've all been out on the line talking for eight months. Now we're together. The prejudice has died down a lot. We are stronger. We are going to look at what the company is doing and not bow down.

"When I see a picket line now I'm very interested," he said. "I can't go past a picket line without finding out and supporting them. This is how we can get the unions together."  
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