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After Peterborough … Toronto

JUNE 18, 1996 – June 24, thousands of workers from the Peterborough area will bring much of the area’s economy to a halt.

Peterborough will be the fourth Ontario city in six months to be brought to a halt by a one-day general strike.

Organizers expect most municipal services to be shut down. Early morning pickets will be thrown up to shut down the locks. Thousands of supporters will come in from cities in the province. It will be the largest protest ever seen in the area.

And now we have an opportunity to move from city-wide actions to a province-wide shut down.

Such a shutdown was possible during the five-week OPSEU strike, happening as it did hard on the heels of the Hamilton Days of Action. Had the call gone out to shut the province down to win that strike, it would have been electrifying. But the Ontario Federation of Labour sat on its hands.

But now we know the date of the next one-day strike. The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) has announced that Friday October 25 there would be a general strike in Toronto, to be followed by a mass demonstration on the Saturday.[1]

This is a fantastic opportunity. Already, student leaders are discussing having coordinated student protests across the province.

There is a possibility there will be a call from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) to strike the campuses across the province on October 25.

The OFL should build on this and call on strike actions to take place in every city in solidarity with Toronto.

The argument against a province-wide strike has always been, “well, you can strike a union town like Hamilton, but Toronto will never go out.” Well Toronto is going out. And if we can shut down Toronto, we can shut down the province.

Not only is such a strike possible, it is desperately necessary. The Tories have slashed welfare. They have introduced workfare. They are closing hospitals. They have opened the doors to scabs across the province. They are hell-bent on destroying the social safety net in the province.

Nothing will stop them, short of a general strike movement on the scale of France’s last fall and winter.

The OFL could call a province-wide strike for October 25. They should call a province wide strike for October 25. But we can’t wait on them.

Pass resolutions in your union local, in your labour council, in your student union, in your community group – demanding that the OFL call for province-wide strike action on October 25 in solidarity with the Toronto strike.

Form strike committees, on campuses and workplaces, to begin the work to make such a shutdown possible.

© 1996 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


[1] CP, “Toronto Is Target for Protest Rally: Workplace Shutdown Is Goal,” The Hamilton Spectator, May 29, 1996.

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