The Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canada, was stormed on Thursday (August 30) by about 200 rail strikers wanting higher pay.
The Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canada, was stormed on Thursday (August 30) by about 200 rail strikers wanting higher pay. They had broken away from a march on Parliament Hill by two thousand men.
The break-away group burst through the doors into the centre block, after pushing past a police cordon and hurling a "Mountie" (Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman) to the ground. They then tried to break through steel fire-doors and get into the library, apparently believing it to be the Assembly Chamber. Greatly outnumbering the security staff, they rampaged though the building and the Hall of Honour, some of them breaking windows in corridors along the way.
After appeals for them to leave most of them eventually did so. Police activity was said to be minimal, and there were no reports of serious injury.
The strikers are members of unions representing 56,000 non-operating rail employees -- porter, clerks, signalmen, and baggage handlers. They've demanded an increase of more than twenty per cent, spread over the next two years. They've been offered 13.5 per cent. Just over a year and a half ago, the men had a big pay rise and their wags at the moment is around 3.50 dollars (GBP1.40) an hour. They say inflation has wiped out their previous increase.
The invasion Parliament came only an hour or so before an emergency session met to discuss the situation. Legislation was expected to compel a return to work by strikers, that would include an immediate pay rise. Previous national rail strikes have been ended similarly. The pay increases, which would be back-dated, will apply to the non-operating man, and also to maintenance men and trainmen. The strike has paralysed the country's railways; the Prime Minister, Mr. Pierre Trudeau, said it has caused serious economic damage.
There is an English language commentary with this film, transcript for which is below. An alternative commentary is provided.
SYNOPSIS: The Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canada, was stormed on Thursday by about two-hundred railwaymen on strike for more pay. They broke away from a march by two thousand strikers, pushed their way past police and broke into the centre block.
Security staff were greatly outnumbered and were unable to cope as the demonstrators surged forward. Police were jostled and pushed, and one Mountie was hurled to the ground. Once in the building, the strikers tried to break down the steel fire-doors between themselves and the library, apparently thinking it was the Assembly Chamber, where Parliament was due to meet in emergency session to discuss the strike. For the last week the Canadian railways have been virtually paralysed. The Prime Minister, Mr. Pierre Trudeau, has warned that the strike is causing "serious economic disruption".
The stickers, unable to get into the library, rampaged through the centre block of the Parliament building, and though the Hall of Honour. Some of them were breaking windows in the corridors. They turned on journalists and television cameramen smashing equipment and cameras. Appeals from moderate union leaders were ignored by the strikers.
Eventually the demonstrators began to drift away.