As trade unionists, we take seriously the struggles facing working people all over the world, not just here in Ontario. When our movement hears a cry for solidarity, our job is to respond and give our support.
That’s why, the Ontario Federation of Labour is proud to have passed several resolutions in support of international solidarity at its 16th biennial convention. Nearly 900 delegates from all 54 affiliates participated in the convention, which took place from November 2 to 4, 2021.
In the months following its convention, the OFL has taken steps to implement the resolutions passed by delegates, including four that address international struggles and campaigns:
- Resolution #61 supports Palestinian human rights, in response to the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land and recent Israeli military incursions into the Gaza Strip, and endorses an emergency resolution adopted by the Canadian Labour Congress during its June 2021 convention, which calls for a ban on settlement goods, divestment from Israeli military companies, and an end to Canadian arms sales to Israel, among other measures.
- Resolution #51 expresses strong opposition to antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, white supremacy, and all forms of discrimination, racism, and hatred, while also opposing attempts to equate legitimate political criticism of the state of Israel with antisemitism.
Like a similar resolution passed by the Canadian Association of University Teachers in defence of academic freedom, Resolution #51 opposes the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism (IHRA-WDA), and calls for “alternative approaches to fighting antisemitism that distinguish between hate speech and political speech.”
- Emergency Resolution #1 condemns the ongoing coup in Sudan, in response to appeals for solidarity by striking health, airline, bank, education, oil, and other workers resisting the coup. In addition to defending Sudanese workers’ right to form trade unions and take strike action, the resolution calls on the Government of Canada to “cease all military and diplomatic cooperation with Sudan’s military, including Rapid Support Forces, until the Sudanese state is fully sovereign and free to make economic, political, and security decisions without military influence.”
In support of the struggles of Sudanese workers, the OFL invited Elham Abdelkhalig, community leader and member of Kandaka International for Women’s Rights, to speak at the Toronto rally and march during the province-wide day of action for a better Ontario on May 1. Parts of Elham’s speech are featured in this recent May 1 video.
- Emergency Resolution #2 condemns the ongoing repression by Jordanian security forces of the Jordanian Teachers’ Association, its leaders, and its members. As recently as March 2022, hundreds of teachers in Jordan were arrested and detained following peaceful demonstrations in front of the Education Ministry in support of trade union rights. The Government of Jordan has attempted to shut down and dissolve the teachers’ union since 2020.
The OFL has written to the CLC about each of these issues, to enlist its support in engaging the federal government and foreign governments in defence of Palestinian human rights and trade union rights in Sudan and Jordan.
“We are deeply grateful to all our affiliates and their members who brought these issues to our delegates,” said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour President. “We know that your efforts to build international solidarity continue every day of the year, not just during conventions, and we aim to follow your lead.”