Students Condemn Police Violence After Worker Sit-in

Impromptu March in Downtown Montreal for Laid Off Aveos Workers

Photo Brian Lapuz
Photo Brian Lapuz
Photo Brian Lapuz

Approximately 100 protesters gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin last night in reaction to the reports of Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. workers being pepper sprayed and clubbed by police on the morning of March 20.

“There are many students who felt close the workers who experienced humiliation and [police] brutality,” said Nastassia Williams, a graduate student at Université du Québec à Montréal.

A few hundred workers blocked the road to Air Canada’s headquarters on Côte-Vertu Blvd. They were asked to move after Air Canada obtained an injunction, but some refused and began a sit-in. Montreal police reportedly responded with force.

Workers had been there since Monday after 2,300 jobs were cut in nation-wide layoffs over the weekend, with 1,800 of those jobs in Montreal.

Air Canada sold Aveos in 2007, yet remained their primary customer. Earlier this month, Aveos filed for bankruptcy. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers blames Air Canada for the situation.

“We contacted the union and they said they were deeply moved by our gesture of solidarity,” said Williams.

Though students at last night’s march are fighting against the tuition hikes, they said that both students and workers fighting as part of the same class.

“We’re protesting in a perspective of expanding the movement,” said Luc Gagnon, an undergraduate student at Université de Montréal.

“We are rallying against the contempt of the bosses, the politicians and the police state,” read the Facebook event for the demonstration.

Williams said the IAMAW is planning further action in the near future.