Nothing – not the pandemic, not the challenges it has created for our members and our staff, not conservative politicians across this country – will stop Unifor from standing up for the workers of Canada, Unifor Secretary Treasurer Lana Payne says.
“Our union has lived through a global financial crisis before, but history remains to be written on this virus. We don't know what the future has in store for any of us,” Payne said in her address to Unifor’s online Summer Summit.
“But this I do know. Not even this pandemic will keep us from standing up for working people, from continuing to build a vibrant workers’ movement, a strong fighting, organizing union. This must remain our single purpose.”
Unifor members and the union itself were hit hard by the pandemic as large parts of the economy were shut down, she said. The membership needed their union to respond, and we did, because that’s what unions do.
Equally important. Payne said, the rebuild of the economy and Canadian society must be the focus of Unifor in the months and years ahead.
“We spend our lives fighting so that people and governments see the importance of universal public services such as health care, pharmacare and child care,” Payne said.
“As a union, if we hold any ounce of power to shape what comes next, we have to ask ourselves: how will we use it? These past few months, we have refused to wait for government to come up with solutions. We have instead formulated them.”
With its Build Back Better campaign, the fight for workers’ rights that marked Unifor’s pandemic response will continue as Canada reimagines the kind of society we want. Doing that will mean pushing back against right-wing politicians who would use this crisis to turn back the clock on workers’ rights – such as in Alberta.
“Make no mistake, despite the work of the right-wing all over the world to undermine the kind of vision for a better society, people want change.”
Payne called on we have all members to fight for stronger health and safety measures in their workplaces, and the push back against racial injustice. She also encouraged members to talk to friends, neighbours and family members about the importance of joining a union, and to put them in touch with Unifor’s Organizing Department.
“Talk to them about what it means to be a union member. Explain to them the difference between a collective agreement and an individual work contract. Be the one to tell them about a union so they see more than what outside commentators say about us.”
The months ahead will be difficult, Payne said, but Unifor will not stop fighting for Canadian workers.