The Winnipeg General Strike: a Revolution

The Winnipeg General Strike: a Revolution

The Winnipeg General Strike: A Revolution

The Winnipeg General Strike was one of the greatest strikes in Canadian history.

It was very important in history because it was a turning point in the Canadian labour

scene we have today. The Winnipeg General Strike and the strikers’ actions played a

major role in shaping Canada’s present day identity. Although it changed little at the

time, the strike truly has shaped the Canada we know today. Rising revolutionary

industrial unionism, the success of the Russian Revolution and the definite outcome of

the strike along with the lessons learned all contributed to our labour scene. This strike

was very different from any prior ones. It was one of the most influential strikes in

Canadian history that had changed Canada forever.

Times were hard for Canadian workers after the first World War. Prices were

rising much faster than wages. Jobs were hard to find after the war. On May 15, 1919,

Winnipeg stopped working. It was the first day of the Winnipeg General Strike. It was

the height of many years of workers’ frustration and anger. At stake was the principle of

collective bargaining, better wages and the improvement of often dreadful working

conditions. Within hours almost 30 000 workers had left their jobs. The strike was

coordinated by the Central Strike Committee, composed of delegates elected from each

of the unions associated with the WTLC. The committee bargained with employers on

behalf of the workers and coordinated the provision of essential services. “The majority

of the strikers…contended that the strike was a last resort weapon used by the workers to

gain the rights of collective bargaining and to obtain higher wages.”[1] The workers may

have had other ways of dealing with these problems but eventually turned to a strike. “A

tight labour market had allowed workers to unionize more effectively and socialist and

labourist ideas had...

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