“We must engage in all three if we are to serve our members and communities,” he said. “We must build relationships and coalitions utilizing those three activisms to fight back”.
Lewenza, who has been president of the CAW since August 2008, pointed out to delegates that despite what government and corporations say, it is NOT workers who have caused the financial crisis in which we find ourselves. It is the right wing agenda of free trade, privatization, deregulation and balanced budgets that have caused the global recession - proving the position of the labour movement was correct.
The right wing did not bring us the stability it claimed it would, said Lewenza, but brought us mass unemployment, economic collapse and crisis. He explained that the Stephen Harper we see as a minority leader is not the real Harper - if Harper were to gain a majority, working people would suffer even more as his real, more strident agenda is revealed.
“The rich and powerful will use this economic crisis to retrench their business domination and push forward more globalization, more deregulation and more privatization.
“Corporate leaders, right wing think tanks and leaders like Harper will continue to take advantage of moments of fear to pit worker against worker to get their agenda on line,” he said.
“Finger pointing at workers, saying it is all labour’s fault and we must pay, is part of the plan. Weak fiscal policy is the cause of the collapse and the media has fallen for the standard line against workers.
“We need to talk to each other and other labour affiliates, we must work together. The policy papers I’ve seen at this convention are very similar to the CAW policy papers, we’re on the same page. We must educate and mobilize our members so that they know that a fight against CUPE or the CAW is a fight against all trade unionists!”
A powerful speaker who roused the audience, Lewenza told delegates that “…fighting back makes a difference”.
“Fighting back at the bargaining table and in the political arena is what will make the difference for working people. Canada needs both good paying private sector jobs and a healthy public sector. Together we can make a difference. No one union can win these battles it’s only together we can fight the bosses.”
In conclusion, and to a rousing standing ovation, Lewenza closed by saying: “We must expand our activism, we must take it back to our locals and our communities. Push, push the envelope as far as you can!