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Kendra Coombes: They stood the gaff – In defense of the Glace Bay miners who turned their backs on a Liberal MLA

Ina silent protest dozens turned their backs on Liberal MLA and provincial cabinet minister Geoff MacLellan during yesterday’s ceremony commemorating William Davis Miners’ Memorial Day in Glace Bay, reported CBC’s Tom Ayers.

“The miners, the spouses and community members who turned their backs on a Liberal MLA were only following in the footsteps of the miners and their families of 1925,” writes CBRM Councillor Kendra Coombes in a Facebook post in the miners’ defense that she kindly allowed us to share here.

Photo Beaton Institute

I feel the need to write this before I see a post shaming the silent protest and calling it inappropriate. Warning, it is long but it needs to be said.

The only reason we have Davis Day is because of the strike of 1925. The miners at that time saw their wages drop significantly and their hours of work increase and they protested unsafe work conditions. BESCO was also trying to bust the union (UMWA). When the workers fought back BESCO cut off credit to company stores and then proceeded to cut off the Town of New Waterford and District’s water and electricity. Over several months the miners and their families endured these hardships to ensure proper pay and hours, safe working conditions and protection for workers within the union. They stood the Gaff. The miners, the spouses and community members who turned their backs on a Liberal MLA were only following in the footsteps of the miners and their families of 1925.

On a personal note, I was shocked by the rhetoric coming out of the MLA’s mouth regarding how important Davis Day is when it is his government that is trying to bust unions across Nova Scotia, making it difficult for government employees to earn a living wage when they are freezing wages, creating unsafe working conditions and the list goes on. His government is not honouring what William Davis died for and what the 1925 striking miners and their families fought for and sacrificed for. In fact, his government is doing exactly what the 1925 miners fought against.

Never forget the true meaning of Davis Day and the strike of 1925. Never forget the resistance put up by the community at that time and during the years that followed. Never forget our communities of New Waterford, Scotchtown, River Ryan, Lingan and New Victoria which stood the Gaff to ensure better pay and hours, safer working conditions and the protection of the UMWA.

See also: Labour Day weekend video: Standin’ the gaff

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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much Kendra👍
    Well said as a miner who was injured and fighting the same Government to restore my benifits who before elected signed statements they would go to bat ,go to the wall Do the deep dive to restore our benifits.These are some of the comments by the elected politions.They had no interest in doing this,just led us down a path of deceet
    We will stand United to pay them back and expose what hypocrites they are for every dollar they put in their pension we have to match it with $16.00 dollars of Provincial taxpayers money
    Do as i say not as i do
    Steven Macneil may you die a slow agonizing death
    So many of my fellow Miners felt this horrible deth grasping for air .There widows losing the benifits

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