A moving performance by Sting and the cast of his musical, The Last Ship, in Oshawa gave a big boost to Unifor’s campaign to convince General Motors to reverse its decision on the Oshawa Assembly Plant.
“You have a duty to support the community that’s worked for you. It should be a mutual support system. It’s about loyalty. These workers have loyally given their lives to the company. It’s a two-way street,” Sting told the crowd as he urged General Motors to do the right thing.
Thousands of Unifor members and the public attended the Valentine’s Day solidarity performance, held in the heart of downtown Oshawa. The legendary musician began with “Message in a Bottle,” and after several numbers from the musical, closed with “Every Breath You Take.”
“We live in a time where people with influence rarely poke out their head,” said National President Jerry Dias as he thanked the British recording artists on stage. “Today is about saying to GM in the strongest terms that we’re not accepting your decision to close down the facility.”
The Last Ship, with music and lyrics by Sting, is based on the closure of the shipyard in the musician’s hometown. The Mirvish musical, playing at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, tells the empowering story of the worker’s fight against the shutdown.
At a post-performance news conference with Dias Sting told reporters he could see the anxiety in the faces of autoworkers.
“It’s very evident to us, performing on stage. We could see everyone’s face. I can see the worry on their faces, genuine concern about the future. It was very moving for us to see that close up. It’s not a game, this is real.”
It’s been 11 weeks since General Motors made the devastating announcement about Oshawa and Dias said Unifor is not backing down in this fight.
“We are telling your story and it’s important that your story is heard….Canada needs to get behind you. This can’t be buried under the political red carpet,” said Sting.