Labour Joins Up -- Forms Direct Action Affinity Group Against FTAAin Quebec

Tony Tracy tony at SPAMtao.ca
Fri Apr 20 17:34:44 MDT 2001


(from www.rable.ca / April 20th 2001)

Labour Joins Up

by Judy Rebick

The Canadian labour movement is participating in a direct action today. In
a meeting here last night, union leaders and members decided to form an
affinity group. Labour will act under the leadership of the Group Opposing
Market Globalization (GOM) Action. This is the first instance that the
reporter can remember of labour taking direction from an outside group.

The meeting was attended by Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) affiliates and
representatives from the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). The latter is no
longer a part of the CLC, but that's another story. Together, they agreed
to join with anti-globalization groups from across the country in a direct
action at what is called the perimeter (the fence cordoning off the heads
of state).

An affinity group operates on an independent and consultative basis. One
is usually made up of between five and twenty people. A group chooses a
spokesperson, a medic and a legal advisor, who act as supports for
arrested or injured members. If there are enough participants, the
likelihood is that the labour contingent will break down into several of
these self-sufficient groups.

Carol Phillips, the director of CAW's international department, said
today: "We [labour] have been embarrassed over how young people are
continuing to mobilize and we're not. We want to be part of it."

Last year, at the Windsor protest against the Organization of American
States, labour marshals were angry with direct action participants for
violating the agreement between demonstration marshals and the police.

The unions will protest in the designated yellow-green zone, joining the
anti-globalization group Mobilization for Global Justice, and others from
Halifax and British Columbia. Green is seen as a safe area for supporters
who do not want to participate in confrontation. Yellow is for non-violent
civil disobedience actions, such as a sit-down, which carry some risk of
arrest.

The more militant anarchist groups, including the Anti-Capitalist
Convergence (la Convergence des luttes anti-capitalistes, or CLAC) are
planning a red-yellow action. This means they are prepared for intense
confrontation with police and almost-certain arrest.

Despite some tensions between People's Summit organizers and direct action
groups, the Chapiteau (a big white circus tent in the Old City that has
been the site of the alternative summit) has been designated a safe zone
for protesters running from the police. The word is that labour
representatives could form a human barricade between protesters and the
police.








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