TORONTO, Feb. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) and Occupy Toronto joined forces today to highlight the Bank of Montreal's (TSX:BMO) role in prolonging one of the longest strikes in Toronto history.
The flash mob of dozens of demonstrators, including more than 25 Occupy Toronto dancers and singers, showed up at the main Bank of Montreal branch at King and Bay to challenge BMO to help end the 27-month strike at Infinity Rubber.
In a choreographed song and dance number set to the tune of "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5, the group urged onlookers inside the branch, and later on the street, to "Move from BMO" because of the bank's role in funding an attack on workers.
USW members at Infinity Rubber in Toronto's Etobicoke neighbourhood have been walking the picket line for over two years, fighting their employer's demands for drastic wage and benefit cuts.
Rather than negotiate a fair settlement, the company has been operating with replacement workers. Despite the ongoing strike and the operation's history of bankruptcy, workers were shocked to learn the Bank of Montreal granted Infinity Rubber new financing at a far better rate than it previously had access to.
"What is the Bank of Montreal doing funding Infinity Rubber?" asked John Humphrey, one of the Steelworkers members who participated in today's flash mob. "Don't they see that by financing this company, they are bankrolling an attack on workers? We are here to make sure this bank gets the message that this is wrong. We want BMO to help end this strike." In a rally outside the branch following the dance, Steelworkers Toronto Area Council President Carolyn Egan thanked Occupy Toronto for its participation in the event.
"This is a little different than how we usually do things," Egan said, "but we are happy to have the energy of the Occupy movement with us in highlighting how a financial institution is perpetuating this attack on our members.
"Canadian banks got off scot-free in the financial crisis and yet here is a concrete example of very questionable lending practices. Thank you to Occupy Toronto for helping us raise awareness of these practices in an innovative way."
To view a photo gallery of today's event, see www.usw.ca/media/photo?id=0029.
For more information on the Infinity Rubber strike and to view a video telling the workers' stories and highlighting BMO's role in the dispute, see www.usw.ca/BMObankrollsInfinityRubber.
For further information:
Alexandra Eshelman, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-570-9984, [email protected]