labour strikes in canada

Many in its ranks feared it was the first step to conscription. Conflict was not constrained to workers and employers, but also occurred between labour groups. The Canadian Government and the Suppression of the 1918 Quebec Easter Riots, in: Canadian Historical Review 89/4 (2008), pp. Non-skilled women entering the workforce were a large concern, as they threatened the traditionally male-dominated industrial occupations that allowed unions to maintain their power within Canadian labour. 291-292. [29] The violence of the battlefields, thought to be far away, had reached Canada. The TLC had opposed all of these elements. Strike, collective refusal by employees to work under the conditions required by employers. This decision prompted anger and distrust towards the government among the labour ranks; there was, however, very little they could do to strike at traditional power bases. For the majority of those employed, however, protesting a job is unthinkable, not to mention a fireable offense. Canada Rail Strike Ends as CN Rail, Union Get Tentative Deal By . In 1917, munitions workers made up less than 20 percent of total women workers. Sangster, Joan: Mobilizing Women for War in: Mackenzie, David (ed. As per article 87.2 of the Canada Labour Code, advance notice of strike or lockout to the other party and the Minister of Labour is required to be served at least seventy-two hours in advance. The special constables followed, beating protestors with their batons. [26] None of the labour candidates were elected, but the issue of conscription had brought labour into federal politics for good. 2384, issued on 25 September 1918, declared several political groups and unions illegal, including the International Workers of the World (IWW), the Russian Social Democratic Party, the Russian Revolutionary Group, the Russian Social Revolutionists, the Russian Workers Union, the Ukrainian Revolutionary Group, the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Social Labour Party, the Group of Social Democrats of Bolsheviki, the Group of Social Democrats of Anarchists, the Workers International Industrial Union, the Chinese Nationalist League, and the Chinese Labour Association. The Canadian Labour Revolt, in: Bercuson, David J. The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike was the culmination of years of war, anger, repression, and loss. Conscription and the perceived dismissal of their concerns of depopulation by both the provincial and federal government prompted farmers to stand for and win the Ontario provincial election in October 1919. Morton, Desmond: Canada and War. Some historians have connected to the popular resistance to conscription to the overall labour revolt. ): Canada and the First World War. As the strike dragged on, the federal government intervened and a number of strike leaders were arrested in the early morning of 19 June. Under such conditions, strikes occurred, but rarely succeeded in achieving workers’ goals. Kealey, Gregory S.: State Repression of Labour and the Left in Canada, 1914-20. The economic depression that racked the country in 1914 did not end until 1916, as the war orders helped to bolster the Canadian economy. Leftists and the People’s Enlightenment in Canada, 1890-1920, Toronto 2008, p. 433. The four-day strike is broken by the use of scabs and militia. 1949 - Controversial American labour unionist, 1965 – Wildcat postal strike, leading to the extension of collective bargaining rights to the majority of the public service, 1968 - Air Canada agents in British Columbia begin, 1986 - Six-month-long strike at the Gainers meatpacking plant in Edmonton, 1998 - Teenagers Jennifer Wiebe and Tessa Lowinger successfully unionize a, September 19, 2008 - A fire destroys the historic. On October 14, 1976 over a million workers walked off the job across Canada as part of a General Strike called by the Canadian Labour Congress to protest the federal government’s plans to impose wage and price control legislation – a broken campaign promise and betrayal of workers by the Trudeau Liberal government. As Canada moved into the 1970s, workers faced difficult economic times. Labour Strike. Morton, Desmond: When Your Number’s Up. However, some sectors of labour were against war, and called for general strikes to cripple the country and prevent its entry into the conflict. They blamed farmers, who they thought were growing rich off urban suffering. The most radical elements of the labour revolt did not begin until after the war had ended. [18] The OBU started in Western Canada when its members split from the TLC in March 1919 at conference in Calgary, Alberta. The ‘radical’ West and the conservative East have become sorry shibboleths of Canadian historiography. [22] There was an additional ban on “any association, organization, society or corporation, one of those purposes or professed purposes is to bring about any government, political, social, industrial, or economic change within Canada”. When pay becomes too low to bear, options exist in the form of a)negotiating with a boss and/or working overtime, b) finding a new job that pays better, or c) sucking it up. 2384, September 1918. Library and Archives Canada, Orders in Council 19 September 1918 to 28 September 1918 (RG2), 2168E, v. 955, P.C. Women were still in subordinate to men in unions and many separate ethnic and racial unions were organized. Craig Heron concludes that more women and ethnic minorities joined unions, but complete union solidarity was still lacking. ... Today, nearly 30 years later, the Constitutional right to strike came to Canada carried on the sails of Justice Dickson’s dissent. This started a “feminization” of clerical work that continued into the post-war years, something that did not occur in industrial occupations. The prevailing opinion amongst contemporary labour leaders and later historians is that the war severely weakened labour’s cause in the immediate post-war years after minor gains during the war. Street, Patriotic, Not Permanent 2012, p. 150. Borden had first recommended a voluntary information-gathering scheme, where men submitted information about themselves to allow the government to gauge the human resources available for the Canadian war effort. They took their protest to Ottawa, but to no avail: The conscripting of farmers continued until the measure was ended in early 1919. When all else fails, strike! A Nation Transformed, Toronto 1974, p. 242. The TLC faced opposition from the One Big Union (OBU), which advocated that all sectors of labour, skilled and unskilled, be represented by one organization. Before the outbreak of the First World War, economic depression had shaken the Canadian economy, leading to rampant unemployment. [3] Based primarily in the more industrialised Eastern part of the country, the TLC’s narrow definition of trade unionism, which precluded many workers from joining, prevented the development of working-class solidarity on a nation-wide basis. Striking at the Ballot Box, in: Heron, Craig (ed. McKay, Ian: Reasoning Otherwise. [34] The local and provincial governments did little to try to end the strike, but feared that the Bolsheviks had wormed their way into the organizations. This comes after breakdowns in negotiations over the postal worker’s collective agreement that dictates working conditions. Growing discontent with government repression and perceived greed on the part of employers led to one of the most violent and divisive labour strikes in Canadian history. Sandrine Rastello. Radicalization of workers was also limited, with few individuals organizing in workplaces and few protests held against employers. The Trades and Labour Congress (TLC) was the strongest labour group in Canada in the pre-war period, but it was not a national organization. [31] Woodsworth was the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Foundation, a political party that brought together labour, farmer’s groups, and socialists in the 1930s. Anti-conscription protests and resistance were part of the larger labour revolt against the war from mid-1917 onward. Brown, Robert Craig / Cook, Ramsay: Canada 1896-1921. [32] It expanded into a general strike two weeks later when the TLC voted to support it. Gregory S. Kealey notes that “this apparent surrender of the labour movement’s purely voluntarist stance led to renewed opposition to the TLC leaders, especially in Quebec and the west, but also in Ontario.”[24] The measure, of course, did lead to conscription: The Military Service Act of 1917 (MSA) was put to a pseudo-referendum in the 1917 federal election. A: Section 155 of the Labour Relations Code protects pension rights and benefits during a strike or lockout. [14], There was a large amount of strikes during the war and in its immediate aftermath. After the guns fell silent, four rioters lay dead and many more had been wounded. While farmers were initially praised by the government and elites as contributing to the war effort, as inflation rose from 1916, some in the cities looked for the cause. 29-12-1876 Grand Trunk Railway workers in eastern Ontario go on strike in support of fired co-workers. This splinter group openly identified with the Russian Revolution and socialism, and favoured the use of general strikes in order to have their demands met. In the early years of the 20th century, many people had moved from rural farms and communities into larger cities seeking better wages. July 5, 2010 - A tentative resolution of the Vale strike in Sudbury is announced. The ongoing economic depression initially hampered any strong, organized opposition to the war or the Borden government. Attitudes about Women’s Making Bombs and Being Bankers, in: Glassford, Sarah / Shaw, Amy (eds. A one-day general strike in British Columbia on 1 June 1987 protested against the proposed changes to British Columbia labour laws in bills 19 and 20. Selected Readings, Toronto 1994, p. 25. The TLC’s affiliation with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) highlights the influence of American business unionism in pre-war Canada: American money financed the expansion of TLC unions. The TLC leadership accepted the scheme shortly after its creation in autumn 1916, assured that conscription would not occur, and recommended compliance to their members. Canada post is on strike. The need to increase production of armaments such as shells led to growth in the metalworking industry, which needed tens of thousands of new workers to keep up with munitions orders. St. Croix, Brad: Labour Movements, Trade Unions and Strikes (Canada) , in: 1914-1918-online. [10] This position is supported by Kori Street, who demonstrates that over 50 percent of employed women in 1917 worked as clerks. [13] These numbers were not maintained in the post-war years, however. We fought for and won many of the rights enjoyed by all workers today – minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, and protection from discrimination and harassment. ): The Workers’ Revolt in Canada 1917-1925, Toronto 1998, p. 215. [25] This did not prevent many labour representatives from running in the election on anti-conscription platforms, and there were many demands to conscript wealth along with young men. DOI: 10.15463/ie1418.11279. The most radical elements of the labour revolt did not begin until after the war had ended. Labor > Strikes: Countries Compared Map. / Bright, David (eds. CANSIM - Labour (Statistics Canada) - Unionization and Industrial Relations Perspectives on Labour and Income (Statistics Canada) (Aug. 2012 last online edition; summer 2012 last print edition; combined with Canadian Social Trends into new publication Insights on Canadian Society) To search this publication for material on strikes, … A "Day of Protest" was called by the Canadian Labour Congresson 14 October 1976 to mark the anniversary of the royal assent of the Anti-Inflation law and regulations. There is no consensus as to when the Canadian labour revolt began. Australian and Canadian Conscription Debates during the First World War, in: Australian Journal of Politics and History 61/2 (2015), p. 195. Farmers, particularly in Ontario and the Prairie provinces, became involved in the labour revolt because of conscription. Ethnic and racial divisions in Canada also played a part in the creation of these laws. [23] Any type of literature espousing the views of these banned publications was subject to government seizure without a warrant. Drache, Daniel: The Formation and Fragmentation of the Canadian Working Class. Drawing on the strength of this victory and the discontent in the West, the Progressive Party of Canada became the Official Opposition in the federal parliament after the 1921 election. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown, Toronto 2005, p. 169. "Timeline of labour issues and events in Canada", Learn how and when to remove this template message, Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital, 2009 City of Toronto inside and outside workers strike, Bill 115 'Putting Students First Act 2012', Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, "Vancouver Island War", Knowledge Network preview/summary video, Canada's Sweetheart: The Saga of Hal C. Banks - NFB - Collection, "Fighting the good fight: Homer Seguin tells his story", "1973 – 1982: CUPE Becomes a Seasoned Political Force", "Merger of Retail Clerks, Meat Cutters Created Union Exceeding 1.2 Million", "Vale reaches deal with workers at Sudbury nickel mine", https://www.thecoast.ca/RealityBites/archives/transit-strike/, Records of Mayworks labour festival are held by Simon Fraser University's Special Collections and Rare Books, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Timeline_of_labour_issues_and_events_in_Canada&oldid=977718064, Articles with dead external links from July 2018, Articles with permanently dead external links, Articles needing additional references from October 2010, All articles needing additional references, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 1900 – Parliament passes the Conciliation Act and establishes the federal, 1912–1914 – Great Coal Strike on Vancouver Island, aka, 1914 – The Workmen's Compensation Act, the first social insurance legislation in Canadian history, was adopted by the, 1919 - Western Labour Conference in Calgary leads to creation of, 1924 - An informal coalition of progressive, 1925 - One coal miner was killed and many injured during a protest as a result of a major strike at the, 1939 - Canada Declares war on Germany (1939), August 1940 – The first compulsory national. This page was last edited on 10 September 2020, at 15:05. ): Canadian Labour History: Selected Readings, Toronto 1994, p. 197. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2018-06-28. So is how union workers think when they want to get their points across. It became the New Democratic Party in 1961, and continues to represent the labour position on provincial and federal levels. Mitchell, Tom / Naylor, James: The Prairies. They had complex demands across many different industries and threatened to hold massive city wide strikes if their demands were not met. 1820-1920, in: Bercuson, David J. Borden, Mackenzie King, and Canada’s World War, Toronto 2012, p. 117. The city was essentially shut down. The Bolshevik revolution in October 1917 and the Russian exit from the war in March 1918 led the Borden government to introduce more draconian laws against organized labour. This strike united the Canadian labour movement around the demand for collective bargaining legislation, which it won in 1944 and which remains central to our industrial relations system. We are part of the Employment and Social Development Canada portfolio. Labour Relations Rights (No Right to Bargain Collectively and/or No Right to Strike) 5.3 Securing Essential Services by Imposing Limitations on the Right to Strike (Controlled Strike Model) 5.3.1 Federal Public Service Labour Relations Act 5.3.2 Canada Labour Code 5.4 General Observations on the Controlled or Designated Strike Model Labour; Trades and Labour Congress; Conscription; Winnipeg General Strike, Labour Movements, Trade Unions and Strikes (Canada), World War I veterans demonstrating at City Hall Winnipeg, Revolt against Conscription and Division in Canada. Conscription further exasperated the divide between urban and rural Canadians, which had been growing prior to the outbreak of war. It began in earnest when metal trades and building workers walked off the job in early May, demanding wage increases and the right to collective bargaining. That led to a new round of violence, which broke out on 21 June when strikers defied the ban on parades and gathered at the intersection of Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg. For a good example of this more traditional view, see Auger, Martin: On the Brink of Civil War. The exact impact of the war on women in the workforce is still debated. 460-461. CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images Desmond Morton posits labour weakness as one reason for the suppression: Others believe the federal government used the war as an excuse to begin targeting radical labour leaders and groups. Labour reacted to the outbreak of war with enthusiasm, like the rest of Canada. Such measures were mostly able to keep radical behaviour in check during war, but this would not be the case after the armistice. [6] Radicalization was thus also limited, but the global war sent tremors throughout Canadian labour. The degree of intensity in the labour revolt varied by region. By 1922, there were 100,000 fewer union members than in 1919. In 1915, however, increased industrial output for the war effort helped to end the depression. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. The slowing down of economic activity, starting in the early 1980s, almost wiped out any strike activity until the mid-1990s; workers wer… Requests for collective bargaining by unions were rejected throughout the country, and especially in Manitoba. On 15 May 1919, between 25,000 and 30,000 workers left their workplaces at eleven o’clock in the morning. [30] Farmers had initially been promised exemption from conscription, and when this protection was removed, they organised against conscription. 1743, issued on 11 July 1918, outlawed strikes and lockouts, while assuring the right of workers to organize. is licensed under: CC by-NC-ND 3.0 Germany - Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivative Works. Gregory S. Kealey argues that “the revolt was national in character and that its seeds were not rooted in any unique regional fermentation. Major Work Stoppages in Canada (Labour Program Canada). One example is the death of Albert “Ginger” Goodwin (1887-1918), a labour leader who was killed on 27 July 1918 while evading conscription in the hills of British Columbia. [19] The founding of the OBU contributed to the events that led to the Winnipeg General strike in spring 1919. It claimed to speak for labour in Canada, when in fact few workers were organised into unions and not represented by the TLC. By 1919, 378,000 workers had unionized. A strike is a very powerful weapon used by trade unions and other labour associations to get their demands accepted. • 1912–1914 – Great Coal Strike on Vancouver Island, aka Vancouver Island War - Joseph Mairs martyred - memorial cairn in Ladysmith, BC With wide public support in the province, the producers win union recognition. Desmond Morton argues that the economic downturn was caused by overproduction, dismissing the common explanation of insufficient manufacturing ability. The outbreak of war caused further rifts between these two sets of the Canadian population. The troops were ordered to open fire on the crowd. A Military and Political History, Toronto 1981, p. 57. ): The Workers’ Revolt in Canada 1917-1925, Toronto 1998, p. 47. Labour was divided on its support for this measure. The government curtailed civil liberties and used conscription in an effort to limit the influence of radical labour leaders, but had little success. Canadian labour’s position at the beginning of the First World War was weak in relation to employers. A famous labour law professor told me once that sometimes you write decisions or public commission reports with an eye to the future. Some historians claim the labour revolt began in 1916, while others place it in late 1917 with the election of the Union government, the introduction of conscription, and the orders in council that curbed the civil liberties of labour and trade unions. Many Ontario workers benefitted from the increase in war production, and were therefore less radical. Heron, Canadian Labour Movement 2012, p. 31. Before the war, unions were present throughout the country, but exercised only limited power. [36] Though it did not achieve labour leaders’ goals, the Winnipeg General Strike remains in an important symbol of labour rights in Canada. In addition, large numbers of returning Canadian soldiers were involved in the strike, with some on the side of the protestors, others entering the new police force. Heron, Craig: The Canadian Labour Movement. Both the political elite and labour leaders called for some form of conscription of wealth. The Labour Program is responsible for protecting the rights and well-being of both workers and employers in federally regulated workplaces. [5] Labour militancy was divided along regional lines in and shied away from extremism, largely due to the economic conditions and the conservative nature of trade unionism. The foundations of our understanding of 1919 must be built on national and international conjunctures.”[20] Despite the regional bias of the historiography identified by Kealey, there were changes that had a national effect on labour. labour dispute videos and latest news articles; GlobalNews.ca your source for the latest news on labour dispute . Ian McKay links conscription opposition to labour by stating that the 1918 Easter anti-conscription riots in Quebec City took place in the working-class suburbs and was therefore part of the political left’s protest efforts. [7] Increased employment, especially of unskilled workers and women, triggered fears in craft unions of labour dilution: If greater numbers of non-skilled workers entered the workforce, the craft unions might lose their influence in labour unions. Mail stopped running, telephone service was suspended, and garbage collection ceased. Remember Kirkland Lake: The Gold Miners' Strike of 1941–42 tells the story of one of the most important industrial disputes in Canadian labour history. Police officers were laid off for their pro-strike inclinations and special constables hired to replace them. Although income tax was introduced in 1916 and 1917, candidates from all political parties argued this did not go far enough. While by the war’s end, almost 37 percent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force had listed their occupations as “industrial”, workers at home started to strike, partly in protest of the war. This is a timeline of labour issues and events in Canada. Meetings conducted in these languages, other than religious services, were also banned. 1998, p. 119. Strikes typically only impact union members, so non-members are not technically on strike, however, some non-union employees who will eventually be allowed to join the union might also part take so as to avoid any situations in the future. / Bright, David (eds. [28] This particular outbreak of protests followed the harassment of men who had received exemptions from conscription. [27] This deviates from the more traditional view that the riots resulted from French-Canadian dissatisfaction with the war effort and the enforcing of conscription in Quebec. TORONTO, Nov 20 1997 (IPS) - Canadian postal workers, echoing the concerns of labour unions in the United States, have gone on strike over government demands for more “flexibility” in job arrangements. Strikes, Lockouts And Picketing. This text A union strike happens when the union and management are unable to negotiate to meet one another’s needs. February 4, 2012 - in Halifax, Amalgamated Transit Union went on strike, crippling the city's public transportation until March 14, 2012. The number of strikes more than doubled, from eleven in 1917 to twenty-seven in 1918, and the number of days occupied by wartime strikes soared from 12,549 to 84,121. 503-540. The reasons for the suppression of labour in the post-war period are still hotly debated. The Alberta Labour Relations Board has ruled that health-care workers who walked off the job Monday were engaged in an illegal strike. That election also saw numerous labour politicians elected to office: Joseph Shaw (1883-1944) and William Irvine (1885-1962) won as Labour candidates in Calgary, J. S. Woodsworth (1874-1942) in Winnipeg. ): A Sisterhood of Suffering and Service. Thus, while labour’s power increased during the war, government suppression prevented major changes from being consolidated, and so the gains made during the war years were effectively lost for decades to come. Conscription had brought different sections of labour into Canadian politics, forever changing the political landscape. These radical groups were in the minority, and no substantial protests developed. [2] There was no national unity among labour unions, nor among the working class more generally. It generally involves quitting of work by a group of workers for the purpose of bringing the pressure on their employer so that their demands get accepted. A Short History, Toronto 2012, pp. ): The Workers’ Revolt in Canada 1917-1925, Toronto 1998, p. 147. The first recorded labor strike occurred in ancient Egypt in 1156 BC, when workers stopped working to protest late payment from the pharaoh, Ramesses III. Violence broke out when the crowd threw bottles and snowballs at the troops, mostly conscripts themselves, who had been sent to restore order on 1 April 1918. By 1919, the number of strikes rose to 427 with 150,000 workers, and by 1920, the number had reached 457. Heron, The Workers’ Revolt 1998 , p. 183. American-based international unions dominated and heavily influenced how Canadian labour was organised in the pre-war years. Other accounts allege that shots were fired from the crowd or from other concealed positions. The Unionist party, made up of Conservatives and pro-conscription Liberals, represented conscription, while the opposition Liberals were against it. Strikes arise for a number of reasons, though principally in response to economic conditions (defined as an economic strike and meant to improve wages and benefits) or labour practices (intended to improve work conditions). At the end of 1915, membership in Canada was at 140,000, and by 1916, had marginally increased to 160,000. Morton, Desmond: Working People. Union membership was limited at the beginning of the war, but increased with each year of conflict. The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike was the culmination of years of war, anger, repression, and loss. The crucible of war changed Canada in many ways, but labour remained outside the structures of power after the fighting had ended. [39] Whatever the catalyst for this decline, the war negatively affected labour in Canada. In Canada, going on strike was a crime for some trade unionists until 1892. 32-33. A general strike that began in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 15 May 1919 resulted in street violence, and was used by the federal government as an excuse to limit the power of organised labour in the immediate post-war years. McKay, Ian / Morton, Suzanne: The Maritimes. Kealey, State Repression of Labour 1992, p. 314. Estimates of women workers in munitions for the entire war range from 10,000 to 35,000. Expanding the Circle of Resistance, in: Heron, Craig (ed. As the war progressed, conscription became a necessity after the high casualties Canada suffered at Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, and Passchendaele. Gregory Kealey claims the state had hidden its anti-working-class stance prior to the war, but that the measures introduced in the late war and post-war period revealed its true intentions to suppress radical labour movements. 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