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09 August 2020  

Provincial Solidarities

Hot Cargo, 1979

HOT CARGO: These stickers and buttons were widely distributed among unions in Canada as part of the NO CANDU campaign.

On 3 July 1979 Saint John longshoremen refused to load a shipment of heavy water for Argentina. It was an act of union solidarity that has not been forgotten. Argentina at the time was ruled by a military dictatorship that was brutally suppressing union rights and refusing to sign treaties on the use of nuclear power. Unions across Canada joined the international protests, and in May 1979 the New Brunswick Federation of Labour also called for the restoration of human rights and the suspension of nuclear sales to Argentina. In supporting the “NO CANDU for Argentina” campaign, Saint John workers raised awareness of the abuses of human rights and secured the release of a number of political prisoners. They also forced Canada to reconsider its policies for the export of nuclear technology and helped stop the sale of a second reactor to Argentina. On that day in 1979 New Brunswick workers showed a local solidarity that made a difference for workers thousands of miles away. The event has been described as “the single most dramatic example of Canadian trade union solidarity with workers in the Third World” .