OSHAWA, Ont. - Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti pledged the support of his 3.2 million members to General Motors workers in Oshawa, Ont., on Sunday as their round-the-clock blockade of the company's Canadian headquarters entered its fifth day.
Standing in the back of a grey GM pickup, Georgetti pointed blame squarely at corporate power and the Conservative government for the impending closure of the Oshawa truck plant.
He urged unions across the country to get behind the GM workers, but added they weren't the only ones under assault.
"We're losing jobs by the bucketfuls because (corporations) can exploit workers in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico, and we're letting them do that," Georgetti said to a supportive chorus of boos.
"I think it's time for some raw shows of force. What you're doing here is exactly what we need to do in the rest of this country. It's time to say enough."
Georgetti said the federal government must change its trading system, or job cuts will continue.
With no plans for major demonstrations - unlike the three-hour motorcade that circled GM's Oshawa truck and car plants the day before - Sunday's protest was meant to drum up support among the community.
Keith Osborne, truck plant chairman of Canadian Auto Workers Local 222, said the union will launch the next phase of its action early in the week, but he wouldn't say what that will entail.
He'll head to a CAW bargaining convention on Tuesday with a message that strong support is the only way to move forward. He'll also encourage the delegates to join the Oshawa protesters for a demonstration Thursday at noon.
"If that doesn't get more attention, I don't know what else will," he said.
GM workers picketing at the blockade said they're prepared to go the distance in order to get the company to reverse its decision to close the plant next year.
"All the way, whatever it takes," said Linda Currier, a GM employee since 1985. "It's extremely important to the future of young kids and also to the surrounding community."
Dave Glazier said he was proud to be part of the efforts put forward so far.
"Everybody is standing together, solidarity is strong," he said. "We've got the public on our side."
CAW president Buzz Hargrove had a speech planned for later Sunday to rally workers.