Statement by Ontario Public Services Employees Union President Smokey Thomas on the arrest of Unifor’s President

OPSEU/SEFPO President 'Smokey' Thomas speaking

I am deeply troubled that the president of a national labour union, Jerry Dias was arrested on Monday while exercising his constitutional right of freedom of association on a legal picket line at Regina’s Co-op Refinery.

This is a very sad day, not only for the labour movement, but also for democracy in Canada.

Labour and social justice activists play an important role to protect our rights and freedoms in Canada and it is chilling any time that the balance, enforced by entrusted authorities, is allowed to tilt toward wealthy and powerful employers.

It is sobering because what happened to President Dias on Monday could easily happen to anyone in the labour movement.

The Ontario Public Services Employees Union condemns the actions of the individuals who made the decision to arrest President Dias and six other Unifor members.

I would like to point out to the people who made this decision that this was a lockout and not a strike.

It is shameful that this happened in Saskatchewan, the home of Tommy Douglas, who was a strong advocate of social justice, working people and their right to join unions.

OPSEU calls on union activists to provide support to Unifor. It is important that we stand together and speak as one strong voice in this difficult moment.

I am en route to Saskatchewan to lend support to President Dias and to speak out against this injustice.

To my friend Jerry and all of Unifor I say: We’re in your corner.

One day stronger.

For more information:  Warren (Smokey) Thomas  1-613-329-1931

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