• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12
  13. 13
    13
  14. 14
    14
  15. 15
    15
  16. 16
    16
  17. 17
    17
  18. 18
    18
  19. 19
    19
  20. 20
    20

The Winnipeg General Strike.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Winnipeg General Strike The province of Manitoba has endured a tumultuous history. It was born as a result of the Riel rebellion and its capital city, Winnipeg, was the sight of the only general strike in Canadian history. The Winnipeg General Strike, which took place shortly after the end of the Great War, brought, in the eyes of some, the specter of revolution to Canada. In the end, however, the strike was, from a labour standpoint, an abject failure, as virtually no long-term gains were made.1 It is difficult to comprehend how this strike, which lasted from May-June 1919 and began with between twenty-four and thirty thousand workers walking off the job (only 12,000 of whom were unionized)2, could end in failure but, when the events of the strike are examined in detail, it becomes apparent that the strike leaders themselves were, ultimately, responsible for their lack of success as they continually took steps which undermined their ability to force a resolution on their own terms. Labour unrest had been rampant in Winnipeg for many years and, although trade unions had made some modest gains, it was the employers, backed by government and the courts, who usually emerged victorious from the numerous work stoppages which took place. Employers, in fact, relied on the courts as a means of settling labour disputes to such a degree that Winnipeg became known, in colloquial terms, as 'Injunction City.'3 The result was that a climate of conflict and mistrust existed between employers and employees which was difficult to overcome. Although employers, no doubt, believed they were protecting their interests by using court orders to defeat the various unions during work stoppages they were, in actuality, setting the stage for more serious labour disputes in the future. In addition to labour unrest Winnipeg was also experiencing a 2 growth in class consciousness and division while the city was rapidly becoming a hotbed of militant unionism. ...read more.

Middle

An agreement was reached with proprietors which would guarantee delivery of supplies on the condition that establishments were kept open.32 Keeping restaurants open could serve no useful purpose and was, in fact, detrimental to the strikers cause. That the strike committee still chose to keep these businesses open is another example of how their determination to avoid a complete societal breakdown undermined their efforts during the strike. Many restaurants did continue functioning for a time but, eventually, even those which had initially remained open were closed. When these closings occurred many strikers claimed that it was an effort to starve workers into submission.33 This claim was untrue, however, and it is difficult to understand how the strikers could have made such allegations against 10 establishments which had done their best, under difficult circumstances, to continue operating. Their belief that the closure of restaurants was designed to starve them into submission clearly demonstrates the divisions which existed within the city but the strikers who made these claims obviously failed to comprehend that these businesses closed due to difficulties in obtaining adequate supplies. Another attempt to avoid societal breakdown which actually harmed the striker's cause resulted from the decision to permit the oil and gas companies to supply all farmers, police, Doctors, officers of health, ambulances, and fire trucks with adequate fuel to meet their needs.34 Although this decision was, obviously, taken for humanitarian reasons it could not fail to further undermine the striker's efforts. When this decision was compounded with earlier decisions to permit such activities as milk and bread delivery it becomes clear that the efforts of the strikers would no longer be sufficient to shut down the city but would, rather, become simply an inconvenience in people's lives. The postal service was effectively shut down as mail could neither be sorted nor delivered and, as a result, many of the city's postal stations were forced to close. ...read more.

Conclusion

The actions of the R.N.W.M.P. have been hotly debated since the tragedy occurred but it is clear that they acted inappropriately as the crowd was a peaceful one and there was no reason for them to charge in on horseback. There was even less reason to start shooting at unarmed citizens. Although the authorities tried to claim that shots had been fired and that the police were simply returning fire there is insufficient evidence 18 to support this charge. As a result it must be conceded that, although the events of 21 June broke the back of the strike and led directly to its conclusion, these actions on the part of the R.N.W.M.P. were unprovoked and should, therefore, be considered illegal. Having examined the events of the Winnipeg General Strike it is obvious that the strike committee, although they were in the unenviable position of having to balance their goals with the needs of the citizens of Winnipeg, made several crucial mistakes which, ultimately, caused the strike to fail. Had they not endeavoured to restore essential services they ran the risk of alienating those citizens who supported them in their quest for better wages and union recognition but, nevertheless, this was a risk which should have been taken for it is entirely likely that, at least during the early days of the strike, public opinion would have remained on the striker's side thus enabling them to force a resolution on their own terms. As it turned out the restoration of essential services caused the strike to drag out as the authorities felt no desperate need to settle with the strikers. As the strike wore on it became less and less likely that the strikers would be successful in their endeavours and this can be directly attributed to the strike committee's decisions to permit essential services to function, albeit in a reduced capacity. In the end, then, it must be acknowledged that, although their cause was just, the strikers, or at least their leaders, must shoulder the blame for their lack of success. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Trade Unions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Trade Unions essays

  1. Causes of the General Strike

    This was described as a disaster for themselves and other trade unionists. The strike still went ahead as planned but was highly unsuccessful, the striking miners were defeated and then forced back to work but for substantially lower wages. After this other workers in the shipyards, docks, building trade, cotton

  2. Explain fully and clearly the importance of negotiation within industrial relations to resolve disputes

    The Trade Unions objectives are: > The NASUWT wants the inner and outer London allowances to go up from �3,105 and �2,043 respectively to �6,111 - the same as Metropolitan Police officers. > The "fringe" allowance covering outlying districts should also be more than doubled to over �2,000 from �792, it said.

  1. What were the main effects of the 1979-1997 Conservative governments’ reforms to collective ...

    It can be seen from this statement that the Conservative government very much believed in the individuals' right not to join a trade union, and to give back 'control' (it having been removed by the unions' ability to strike without notice)

  2. Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

    they would be more prepared to strike to obtain conditions and pay they thought fair. The fact that strikes in the past such as the 1921 miners strike, had been successful in raising wages may also have encouraged them to take part in the strike, assuming it would be successful.

  1. Discuss the view that industrial relations represents a redundant and anachronistic form of management ...

    Such a situation is of benefit only to employers and the government, and it is those who essentially control such a system.

  2. Running head: Winnipeg 1919

    Due to the newly build railroad, many immigrants started to immigrate to the west and by 1919 the population of working class in Winnipeg tripled. It is stated that: "the end of the world war signaled the release from the patriotic obligations that had kept reluctant workers on the job,

  1. Social impact of ICT.

    that we still refer to as "atypical": part-time work, temporary work, limited contracts, telework, contract work and other forms of (pseudo) entrepreneurial work... In short, work is still with us but the stable job is not". He warns that as a consequence trade unions are in danger of losing their

  2. Employee Relations and Trade Union Recognition Within The Catering Sector.

    Employees feel it is an unnecessary expense on their already limited resources. This will obviously make an employee reluctant to join any trade union, if there are no foreseeable benefits. The labour turn over within the hotel and catering industry is always going to be high.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work