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Thomas to unions Down Under: ‘Your fight is our fight’

We the North
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Continuing his tour of the Australian labour landscape, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas addressed members of 15 different union affiliates – somewhat equivalent to the Ontario Federation of Labour.

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Warren (Smokey) Thomas addresses union delegates in Australia

Thomas spoke persuasively of the urgent need for a global response to the double threat of globalization and privatization. “The imminent danger to the well-being of individual workers and entire communities is real,” he warned. “And it’s not isolated to one nation or another. Globalization has ensured that no country on earth is immune from the privatization virus.

“We must collaborate internationally to slay it where it already exists – and prevent it from spreading,” said Thomas. “That’s why exchanges of information and experience – like this one – will be increasingly critical to our success in a worldwide labour fight-back.”

Thomas went on to underscore the importance of campaigning against austerity, precarious work and the corruption that goes hand-in-hand with right-wing agendas.

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Union delegates listen to as Warren (Smokey) Thomas speaks to them in Australia.

“Circumstances will vary from region to region and country to country,” he noted. “But there’s always a common denominator: moving public services to the private sector so profiteers can get their hands on public money. And right-wing governments are there to help them out – for a price.

“That’s what we’ve seen in Ontario from our Liberals,” Thomas continued. “That’s what you’ve seen in Australia from your Liberals. We’re both fighting them every step along the path to privatization – a road paved with fiscal and social disaster – and we know they can be stopped.”

“On that score,” he said, “let me offer hearty congratulations to you, to the Australian labour movement and to all those who voted Labor instead of Liberal in this election. You made the privatization of health care the central issue – and exposed the Liberals’ scheme to dismantle the public health care system that has made Australia one of the best places in the world to live.

“Your fight is our fight,” Thomas concluded. “Your success is our success. Together, and with our labour counterparts around the world, we will campaign against the corporate agenda of privatization and precarious work. We will not allow the one per cent to destroy unions, decimate the middle class and further marginalize the vulnerable.

“My friends, let’s show right-wing governments and their corporate cronies what a strong and united labour movement can do – and let’s defeat the neo-liberal agenda, wherever it rears its ugly head.”