Thousands join AFL centennial celebration as Harper wages war on workers
Thousands of union members, supporters and families from all over Alberta sent a message to political leaders across the country today: We've been here for 100 years and we're here to stay.
"This amazing turnout today is a reminder of the power of unions – power that is derived from its members," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which celebrated its centennial with the Party of the Century at Fort Edmonton Park today (Saturday).
More than 3,000 people bought tickets to the park to join the celebration, which included a bagpiper-led parade and activities for families including kids' games, face-painting, pony races, sack races and crafts. There was also a stellar lineup of musical performances during the day, with concerts from artists including Maria Dunn, Souljah Fyah, Audio/Rocketry, The Rault Brothers Band, Terry Morrison and Notres Dames des Bananes.
"Workers are under attack on multiple fronts in Canada today, but unions are ready, able and willing to put up a vigorous defence of all working people, whether they are union members or not," says McGowan.
"For 100 years, the Alberta Federation of Labour has fought to build a better life for working people and a better province. Much of what makes this province a great place to work, to live and to raise our families has been brought to us by union members. Unions have led the fight for fair wages, safe workplaces and an end to discrimination on the basis of race, creed, gender and orientation," he says.
"But don't be fooled into thinking the struggle is over and the battle has been won. Our hard-won victories can be taken away – and that's exactly what the Harper government is trying to do. The Tories have embarked on a low-wage agenda that aims to take money out of the pockets of all working Canadians.
"Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program, Employment Insurance (EI) rules and Old Age Security (OAS) are designed to make Canadians work for less while corporations reap ever bigger profits. It's unfair. It's un-Canadian. It's unacceptable," says McGowan.
"The Harper government is hell-bent on attacking unions in the same way he is going after charities and environmental groups. Anyone who speaks up, anyone who argues against Tory ideology has become a target. They will be met with vigorous resistance. We've been here for 100 years – and we're not going away now, when people need us."
For more information:
• Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 218-9888