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May Day Alive and Well in Toronto

by Toronto Media Co-op

Crowds at May Day PHOTO Sharmeen Khan
Crowds at May Day PHOTO Sharmeen Khan

Toronto - Over 1200 people in Toronto came out to support May day this year with several actions and protests taking place in the annual festival of workers rights.  Concurrent demonstrations also took place in other parts of Canada.
Similar to 2012, a small contingent began gardening in a small patch at Queens Park. Occupy Gardens provided trainings, dances, speeches and hot food to dozens of protesters who eventually dug up the sod and grass and began creating a makeshift garden on the grounds of the legislature planting peas, garlic, onions, kale, lettuce and radishes.

The day's main rally and march gathered at City Hall hours later. Dozens of groups joined the protest, led by a group carrying a two row wampum.  Organizers talked about deaths in Bangladesh, the work of No One is Illegal around Sanctuary City and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty's (OCAP) work around shelter beds in the City of Toronto.  

This years march focussed on solidarity actions with garment workers in Bangladesh and striking workers at Porter Airlines.

After approaching a Loblaw's on Queen Street, protesters stopped to denounce the company's labour practices in Bangladesh.  Joe Fresh (a Loblaws brand) was found to have been making clothes at the Rana Plaza factory which collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh killing over 400 people.  1000 are still unaccounted for.  Protesters tried to deliver a letter to management, but the store had been closed down due to the protests.

"Joe Fresh and the the other companies have to take responsibility," said Farah Kabir of Action Aid, a group that was part of 'Toronto Community Organizers of the Emergency Action to Support Bangladeshi Workers Killed Making Clothes for Joe Fresh'.  "Saver could have been prevented."

A moment of silence and a drum circle were held.

After Loblaws, protesters headed South to Little Norway Park, site of Porter Airlines workers who are currently striking for better safety and wage conditions.

Striking workers from Porter thanked the crowd for the support they had received since going on strike over 3 months ago.  Police, out in full force during the march and at Loblaws, blocked the road to the Airport.

Additional actions were undertaken by the Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee in the Eastern end of the City.  

At 10pm protests ended with an IWW party beginning at 460 Spadina.

Read minute-by-minute coverage of May Day 2013 in Toronto here.

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