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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Solidarity In Port Elgin Labour Day Parade

Port Elgin | by John Divinski  

Labour Day parade organizers say they stand behind striking health workers in Owen Sound.

Photo By John Divinski 

An estimated 2,000 people were part of the Port Elgin Labour Day Parade, with additional hundreds of residents lining the parade route, enjoying the floats, music, clowns, marchers and giveaways.

President of the Grey Bruce Labour Council, Kevin Smith says if there's any message he wanted people to get, it's that labour is united and no matter what the union members stand in solidarity.

Smith says an example of the solidarity was evident at the beginning of the parade where members of Local 276, OPSEU, on strike at the Owen Sound Family Health Team building, led the procession.

Smith says the group was put close to the front of the parade to send the message that all union members "have their back" in this latest labour unrest, which has turned ugly at times.

In a statement to the media, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says he's pleased the owners of the Owen Sound Family Health Organization (OSFHO) are finally returning to the table Tuesday, but says the onus is on them to end the strike by making a decent offer.

Meanwhile, Smith says on a per capita basis, the Port Elgin parade is one of the biggest in Ontario and features union members from across Canada.

Paul Moffitt of Point Clarke joined Local 2222, United Brotherhood of Carpenters in Goderich back in the late 1970's and although retired now, he is still a union member and believes in union services and the parade.

Moffitt's son Devin, also in the union, was in the parade pulling a wagon with his 4 year old son Declan in tow who was recognized as the "Local 2222 third generation in training."

The National Secretary/Treasurer of UNIFOR, Bob Orr, attended the parade and was impressed with the number of people taking part and the support from residents of Saugeen Shores.

He says it's good to see labour and social partners coming together in the common interest of making working people's lives better.

Following the parade, participants and the general public made their way to the UNIFOR Education Centre in Port Elgin, for food, games and entertainment.

The annual parade is put on by the UNIFOR retirees and the Grey Bruce Labour Council.

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