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The Initial Post-War Downturn and Gradual Rebuilding of the Canadian Labor Movement

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Thus industrial unionism had its origin firmly rooted in the intent to overthrow the capitalist system by means of industrial reformist actions. The unions and workers’ associations strived to gain an upper hand over the government in Canada. This was a deliberate methodology that was adapted to assist the cause of labors. It might be noted that since the nineteenth century, the Canadian governments at the local, provincial as well as federal levels banked on industrial capitalism as a means to resolve economic starvation. However, a sympathetic approach towards companies did not help the interest of the workers at all.

This was quite apparent in the way labor unrests at the beginning of the twentieth century were curbed down by force than by across the table negotiations. Any kind of dissent shown by workers was dealt with by police deployment and legal proceedings. Moreover, diversification of unions, the imminent threat of a cold war, gender biases at workplaces, irregular wage structures and frequent workouts did not augur well for the overall economic growth of the country. Most workers lived a life of perpetual struggle for food, clothing, and shelter.

New managerial machinery, often oppressive, was introduced to downsize excess workers. It sparked the labor unrest all the more as skilled labors did not appreciate the new rules. The concept of the labor class is important in this regard. Earlier in the 1870s, the skilled and experienced labors enjoyed an authoritative status over their employers at workplaces. But with the introduction of new policies and amendment in the older ones too away such privileges. The tension between the Canadian government and the workers’ associations increased with the turn of the new millennium.

Besides, labor unions also failed to gain ascendancy in terms of promoting labor solidarity. By the time of World War I, working-class divisions based on skill, race, ethnicity, and gender became apparent, and this issue went out of labor unions’ control.    

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