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Toronto – May 9, 2016 – Hundreds of UFCW Canada activists and labour allies from around the world recently gathered at Ryerson University in Toronto for the LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference 2016.
The dialogue throughout the three-day conference focused on the issues of migration, climate change, and precarious work and featured a variety of experts and panelists from across the globe. The conference kicked off with a play and discussion panel about the struggle of striking Eaton’s workers in the 1980s.
Over the course of the three-day gathering, activists engaged in several panels and presentations on contemporary labour issues, including a roundtable discussion on precarious employment, migration, and food security. The roundtable featured UFCW Canada Local 1118 member Eduardo Basa, a former temporary foreign worker who spoke at length about his first-hand experience with precarious work in the Canadian food industry. As well, Brother Basa discussed how his union and collective agreement have helped him gain economic security and obtain citizenship in Canada.
UFCW Canada National Representatives Pablo Godoy and Stan Raper also participated in a number of workshops at the conference, engaging with international labour activists on the plight of migrant workers in Canada and indigenous struggles in the Global South.
Brother Raper, along with Angela Rankine of the Agricultural Workers Alliance (AWA) and representatives from Students Against Migrant Exploitation (SAME), presented on a panel exploring the difficulties of organizing migrant agricultural workers in Canada. During the panel, Angela Rankine shared her experiences of reaching out to seasonal agricultural workers and providing them with educational support. Brother Raper, meanwhile, provided an overview of two recent reports published by UFCW Canada, The Great Canadian Rip-Off and the Status of Migrant Farm Workers in Canada.
At a separate roundtable, Brother Godoy highlighted some of the work he has done through the tremendously successful Chevron's Dirty Hand campaign. Godoy spoke about Chevron’s disastrous actions globally, including its human rights violations in Ecuador and elsewhere.
Other panels at the conference focused on the rising use of unpaid interns in the global labour market. The event also featured galleries and displays of artwork and videos showcasing international labour struggles. UFCW Canada was proud to join international award-winning artist Gilda Monreal at the conference, where she painted a beautiful solidarity mural and engaged delegates on the power of labour art as a tool for social change and empowerment.
LabourStart is the world renowned news service that helps labour unions disseminate information and win campaigns for members. Maintained by a global network of labour activists, the site features daily labour news links in more than twenty languages.