December 6, 2021
From It's Going Down
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This week we provide updates on the situation on the Wet’suwet’en Yintah as well as on the ongoing #ShutDownCanada solidarity actions across the country. We also cover the Cargill strike in the context of fatal Covid-19 outbreaks linked to the meatpacking plant. Naujawan (youth) Support Network in the Greater Toronto Area continues to successfully put pressure on bosses to pay their workers. And lastly, we write about students at the University of Alberta fighting for action on sexual violence on campus.

Read on for the full stories!

#AllOutForWedzinKwa Updates

Two more arrests occurred this week as repression continues on the Wet’suwet’en Yintah and CGL attempts to move ahead with work. The arrests occurred shortly after a fire was set in the road and work was temporarily blocked. Though the raids were successful at removing the Gidimt’en occupation of CGL’s drill pad (Coyote Camp), it is clear that resistance is continuing on the Yintah.

Meanwhile, December 6th will see the first arrest related to Coyote Camp in court. The arrestee was tasered during their arrest and support and solidarity has been requested by Gidimt’en.

Gidimt’en continues to call for supporters to come to the Yintah.

Solidarity actions outside of Wet’suwet’en territory have continued since our last report. Check out this submedia video for some inspiration to organize in your area!

In Quebec City on December 1st, a solidarity demonstration took the tracks, blocking them for a time until they successfully dispersed without arrests.

Source: ContrePoints Media

In Saint-Pascal, a group of around 30 people blocked the CN tracks for about an hour in solidarity with Gidimt’en.

Souce: ContrePoints Media

A small solidarity demonstration also took place in La Pocatière on November 27th.

Source: ContrePoints Media

In Montreal on December 1st a solidarity gathering called on McGill University to divest from TC Energy.

In St-Lambert, a suburb on the south shore of Montreal, CN tracks were blocked for 5 1/2 hours on December 4th, causing cancellations and delays to Via rail trains and blocking multiple freight trains as well. According to media reports, a small scuffle broke out when police attempted to block a delivery of food. All involved in the scuffle were successfully de-arrested. Witness accounts say that Longueuil police made a few arrests in the vicinity of the action following dispersal, including tasering one person.

In Vancouver, December 1st saw a solidarity occupation of an RBC in downtown Vancouver.

Following the occupation, the group took the streets and blocked Georgia Street until a large cop mobilisation dispersed them, arresting 3 people.

Solidarity demonstrations took place in Guelph and in Niagara on December 4th.

Vanessa Gray, an Indigenous land defender, was arrested by Toronto police for her alleged participation in a recent solidarity action.

Six Nations continues to blockade Highway 6 and the railway through their territory. The Gitxsan All Clans Rail Blockade continues to have a presence at the tracks through their territory, while RCMP continue to occupy their land to escort trains through.

Migrant Workers Take on Cargill

On April 6th, 2020, the United Food and Commercial Workers union informed agriculture giant Cargill about the first covid-19 infection in their high river meat packing plant. The union asked for safety equipment and isolation assistance for infected workers. A week later there were 38 confirmed cases at the plant and Cargill responded by temporarily laying off 1,000 workers and staggering shifts and break times. The plant was briefly closed from April 20 to May 4th, after a provincial inspector said they were satisfied with the precautions taken by Cargill for worker safety. Shortly after, one worker died from covid-19, prompting Cargill to close. At this point, the spread of the virus was already well known to the provincial government. While the government’s choice to keep the plant open was likely motivated by keeping food production in the province consistent, it has also been pointed out that a manager of the Cargill plant is also a nephew of the Province’s education minister.

In the 2020 fiscal year Cargill recorded 3 billion dollars in profit. That same year the workers at the high river plant were sleeping in their cars, isolating from their spouses and family to try and prevent further spread of the virus. Three people, all from the Philippines, were sacrificed to the virus to make those profits. The Cargill facility had an outbreak of over 900 cases in April of 2020. The union was not in a position to threaten a strike back then, but they are now. And on November 10th they voted 97% in favour of one. “There’s this ball of sentiment, anxiety, anger, emotion, frustration, stress and trauma that’s all built up,” explained UFCW president Tom Hesse. Cargill responded on November 25th, threatening a lockout, scheduled for December 6th. People in the nearby city of calgary also noticed hiring adds by Cargill on public transit, suggesting the company was preparing to bring in scab labour. Facing off with a company making multiple billions in profit and having 14 billionairs among its ruling circle seemed like a daunting battle. However, it was reported on December 1st that the union recieved an contract that, according to a statement on the unions website, will be “a dramatic improvement from the offer that union members saw last week and will significantly improve Cargill workers’ lives,”. The new contract was ratified by a vote of 71% in favour. We hope this will be a good sign for what is looking like many upcoming labour battles over the next year.

Naujawan Support Network Keeps Up the Fight Against Wage-Thieving Bosses

The Greater Toronto Area-based Naujawan (youth) Support Network has been busy taking action against wage-thieving bosses. On December 4th, they rallied against the Brampton restaurant Chat Hut to demand a former worker be paid the $18,426 that she was underpaid in her time working there. The NSN reported that the worker was exploited due to her immigration status, with the restaurant promising to help with her permanent residency application and then breaking their promise when she asked to be payed minimum wage. The NSN began by outlining the complaint in a letter to the restaurant, demanding payment by mid-November. When the restaurant refused and threatened legal action, they escalated their fight by organizing a community rally. On December 4, a large crowd gathered in a park, marched through the streets of Brampton, and rallied in front of the restaurant.

Meanwhile, the NSN has been keeping up the fight against a number of other organizations who have stolen wages from their workers. After a recent organizing meeting, they reported on twitter:

After the meeting, we were planning to protest in front of an employer’s home. However he found out about the protest and told the driver that he will pay his rightful wages. If he doesn’t pay by the end of the month, he can expect double this crowd at his front door.

University of Alberta Students Demand Action on Sexual Violence

After mounting pressure on the university administration, 40 people staged a walkout of a General Faculties Council meeting at the University of Alberta to demand action on sexual violence. Earlier in November, students at the University of Alberta issued a joint letter to the University of Alberta administration outlining ten steps that needed to be taken to fight what they described as “endemic sexual violence” on campus. The demands included trainings, hiring a long-promised Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator, and implementing restorative-justice approaches on campus.

While the university acknowledged the letter and the long-standing issue, students, staff, and former students have recently been escalating their calls for decisive action. A former student also recently filed a lawsuit against a former professor and the university related to sexual assaults they experienced as an undegraduate student. They stated that one intention of the lawsuit was to push the university to make real changes to its policies. We hope that the students’ continued efforts can lead to an atmosphere where everyone feels empowered to take action against sexual violence, and that their work is not coopted towards the ends of further campus securitization.

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Source: Itsgoingdown.org