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Labour to participate in Hiroshima Day

Beth Richards — July 1984

On August 6th, 1984, 39 years after the bombing of Hiroshima, Toronto’s labour and peace communities will gather at Litton Industries’ Rexdale plant for a joint demonstration. Co-sponsored by the Labour Council of Metro Toronto (LCMT) , the Toronto Disarmament Network (TDN) and the Cruise Missile Conversion Project (CMCP), this event is the result of several months of cooperation between organized labour and peace activists in Toronto.

The past few years have demonstrated the importance of such cooperation, and Toronto is but one example of this.

Nearly a year ago, the Canadian Labour Congress endorsed and began participating in the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign. Since then, the CLC haS been joined in its support for the PPCC by its major affiliates, by provincial federations of labour and by labour councils across the country.

In British Colwnbia, the labour/peace alliance had a head start with the formation two years ago with the formation of the Trade Union Peace Committee (TUPC).

B.C. peace organizers attribute much of their success in mobilizing huge demonstrations to the contributions of the labour movement there. Last year, trade unions donated huge billboards to the April Walk for Peace, and advertized this year’s Walk with nwnerous bus shelter ads. Even the Vancouver Police Association brings its members out to demonstrations, wearing – “Police for Peace” badges and marching together with protestors.

In Toronto, the Labour Council established a Peace and Disarmament Committee and recently hired a full-time coordinator to work on the PPCC. Trade union leaders supported the PPCC and the Labour Council clearly recognized the importance of reaching local members and enlisting their support and participation in the Campaign. Following a series of Peace Forums, mailings, phone-banks, fIlm nights and speaking engagements at local- meetings, the LCMT unanimously endorsed a resolution to support a demonstration at Litton on August 6, together with the peace movement.

With the August 6 demonstration only five weeks away, local executives and general members are busy circulating shopfloor petitions and flyers, setting up local peace committees and promoting the PPCC in a variety of ways. In addition, fundraising efforts by members of the Peace and Disarmament Committee have resulted in a healthy cash- flow where previously there wasn’t even a trickle.

However, in the words of a recent report of the Committee to the Labour Council, “ … these activities may sound extensive. In reality, they are barely a start! There is a great deal of work that must be done in order to obtain the support of each of the locals affiliated to the LCMT for the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign and to make the labour movement a truly effective partner in the Canadian movement for peace through disarmament.”

Survival is a trade union issue, and surviving – despite often insurmountable odds – is what the trade Ulnon movement knows best. Moreover, there is a very real connection between the issue of peace and “bread-and-butter” issues such as unemployment, cutbacks, equality and social justice. Making the public aware of these connections can only serve to strengthen the peace movement as a whole.