Sample Essay on Labor laws

Assignment 2: Labor laws


With the entry of Canada into war in 4th august 1914, the federal government thereafter was faced with a lot of pressure from the Trades and Labor Council and other labor unions to review the increase of wages and upgrade the working conditions of employees in the wide spread war-supply industries. This is because of the effects from military recruitment and expansion of war production industry increased the cost of living and tightened the labor markets. The federal government in an attempt to solve the issues raised by the labor movements, it decided to extend the Industrial Disputes and Investigations Act (IDIA) to also act upon the war production sector in Canada a decision that was not satisfactory taken by the labor leaders (Fudge and Tucker 24).

The extension of the IDIA was highly opposed by the labor movements who based their reasons as to the recent experiences on the implementation of the IDIA. However, this was among the best strategies of the federal government to protect their interests in favor of the employers by deterring the workers from frequent riots and strikes as a method of presenting their grievances. The labor movements argued that the IDIA could only be pursued when workers would lack enough bargaining power in propelling their employers to consider and solve their issues through negotiations and therefore could not solve their problem fully.

The labor leaders and unions further asserted that the extension of the IDIA into the war production would favor employers in the sense that, among its requirements was that lockouts and strikes to be postponed until the conciliation process was over. This could eventually delay cost workers’ money thereby subjecting the workers to further straining. Also the IDIA, through the compulsory period that is required for investigations to be carried out, provided sufficient time for the employers to reinforce themselves by coming up with new strategies of undermining  and suppressing the demands of workers.

Other labor leaders argued that the IDIA administration sometimes could be biased in execution of their duties. They defended their argument by saying that in various circumstances whereby, certain organizations were able to handle their issues, the conciliation board was invoked as opposed to those organizations that were weak whereby the Board was not granted. They further blamed the Minister of labor who, for more than one occasion, failed to establish conciliation boards whenever requested by various organizations (Fudge and Tucker 103).

As a result of the above reasons, most delegates of the Trades and Labor Council Convention that were held in Toronto In 1996, voted against the actions of the minister and totally rejected the motion that demanded the amendment of the IDIA. They rather demanded the revocation of the whole Act as a remedy of solving their long lived problems.


The failure of the Federal government to come onto agreement with the labor movements and unions, there was a rise in the number of labor unions which increased the pressure on the relevant government’s authorities to review the workers’ working conditions and wages. The efforts of the government and other unions of avoiding riots and strikes came to an end in June 1916 when more than 1500 workers working at more than thirty munitions plants went on strike.  The federal government, due to its fear for diversification of the strike, imposed very strict press censorship. Due to the hostility of employers and the lack of enough external support, the workers, one month later, eventually reported back to work with no solution for their demands (Gobbett and Irwin 84).

Later there was the rise of formation of broader industrial groups that mainly focused at achieving some common objectives. These unions pressured the employers to consider the workers’ demands but all were in vain. The government, through its officials adopted more interventionist approaches in trying to solve the labor crisis which were against the preference of working under the IDIA or the application of ad hoc interventions.  These interventions included appointment of various commissions and the deployment of Labor Fair-wages departments.  With the failure of these strategies, the government threatened to become coercive, an option that was rarely applied.

With the increased pressures of labor radicalism, the federal government strengthened its state security mechanisms and also increased suppression of radical organizations. The government concentrated its concern on the IWW by the use of their weaknesses in overcoming its diversification. In British Columbia and on the Prairies, the federal government through the immigration authorities worked together with the local police and Dominion with the intent of preventing IWW organizers from entry into Canada or sending them out of Canada without application of legal authority.

Earlier 1918, the government decided to use the combination of repression measures and conciliatory measures to secure the collaboration of conservative elements of labor movement and containing the growth of radicalism. The policy of conciliatory dominated in Canada after getting sufficient support by most of the government bodies including the House of Commons. The government organized meetings with the TLC and the Railways Brotherhood whereby, they made various consultations and negotiations in regard to the labor movements. At the end of three meetings the government and the unions came into agreement on many issues which included a future strategy whereby the labor department would be represented on various commissions and advisory committees in regard to prosecution of war (Fudge and Tucker 78). The government thereafter appointed labor representatives who were to join the said commissions and councils.

Further, amendments were made on the IDIA and the government responded to most of the earlier demands of the TLC. All these were done by the federal government with the intention of winning the support of TLC to the war. However, the TLC employed fewer efforts in stopping the labor movements despite the government settling most of their demands. At that moment, the wave of labor radicalization was much felt due to the workers’ solidarity rise. In Feb. 1918, the government sent special investigators to British Columbia with the aim of cracking down the IWW agitators. This was followed a report of the Dominion Police which proposed the use of more vigorous actions and amendment of laws to empower the police to fully act in stopping the threat of labor radicalism.

The government used various legislations and police force to stop the labor radicalism. This involved the legislation of various Acts that were meant to punish the workers whenever they were to engage in strikes. This is to say that the government applied accommodation and coercion in dealing with the labor radicalism situation (Jacoby 78).


The labor radicalism accelerated in 1918 with the rise of more unions. The government was subjected with pressure to consider the demands of the labor movements or else to look for methods of stopping the labor radicalism that was diversifying in Canada. However, the radicalism came to an end in 1919 due to government intervention through various methods. The labor radicalism came to an end  because of; the violent repression that was felt in the Winnipeg strike, the  strike victims trials and the death and suffering of union leaders, the formation of a strong police force, and the TLC’s decision to retreat to craft exclusivist.

On June 1919 Strikers in the Winnipeg encountered vigorous actions of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The police used extra force in restoring peace at that particular occasion. They recklessly shot at the strikers claiming lives of some poor workers and leaving several others with injuries. The brutality of the government through use of extra force by the police really made several workers to fear and thereafter step aside from the labor movement. Although the federal government achieved their goals of defeating labor radicalism during the First World War, the use of coercion in finding solutions is not the best way because it suppressed the human rights of many workers which should have been rather protected by the same government (Heron 123).

The government decided to arrest the labor movement leaders and other workers who engaged in the strikes. For instance seven leaders of the Winnipeg General Strike including John Queen, Abram A. and Robert B. among others were arrested and charged with intentions to overthrow the government, a crime that were sentenced for two years. Also, many workers, for the reason of engaging in the strikes lost their jobs; others were sentenced while others were deported. The unions were disintegrated as they remained without leaders, the other workers who remained could fear the government thereby were forced to consider its regulations.  This really gave the federal government easy times in doing away with labor radicalism.

The creation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police gave much contribution to the defeat of labor radicalism by the government.  The government through parliament voted the merging of the current force by then with the Dominion Police to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This force executed their duties through application of excess force on the residents of Canada. During the strikes they could mercilessly beat up the striking workers leaving them with injuries. For example, at the streets during the Winnipeg strike they even shot and killed some striking workers and leaving many of the workers with injuries. This made the workers to fear facing such a harsh police force which eventually lead to the defeat of labor radicalism by the government (Gobbett and Irwin 139).

The government through its actions victimized the conscious of many workers who earlier on were agitators of the labor movement. The government closed the Labor movement press thereby cutting their informational network. Workers lost the morale of further fighting for their demands through the labor strikes.  Therefore, this contributed to the end of labor radicalism in Canada.


Earlier 1918, the government was highly concerned of the alarming increase on labor radicalism in Canada. The federal government paid much interest in the raise of unionism in the police and firefighting sectors of the economy. It opted to use a combination of both repression and conciliatory measures in securing the collaboration of conservative elements that can be extracted from the labor unions demands and at the same time containing the growth of the labor radicalism.

The continuation of labor conflicts and the presence of growth of radicalism in key sectors propelled the government to be committed in prosecution of the war in a more effective manner. The rise of police unionism was really alarming to the extent that the federal government was worried about the loyalty and reliability of the police in the strike situations. Pressure and fear exacerbated on the government with the decision of the police unions to affiliate with the Trades and Labor Council. In reaction to these unions, the federal government banned the police unions and restricted the Mounties from associating themselves with the employers unions (Brydon and Makaryk 62).

On the other hand, the labor disputes between the employers and the workers in Winnipeg which had lasted for a long period led to a general strike which lasted for six weeks. Due to high pressures from the labor movement, The Winnipeg Traders and Labors Council polled all its constituent members on the need to launch a general strike. The police, fire-fighters, cook, water works employees and post workers among others supported the occurrence of the strike. The WTLC then went on and announced the start of a general strike (Heron 160).

However, the employers and the local government ignored the workers’ demands. Later on, the federal government through their cabinet secretaries was forced to intervene to the strike in intent to end the strike and restore peace. On meeting the local government, citizen’s committee and the strike committee, the federal government refused to consider the demands of the labor movement and rather joined hands with the employers in intimidating the workers. The worker mistreatment kicked on through the orders for the workers to get back to work or else face dismissal. The strike leaders were arrested thereby reducing the speed of the strike (“Winnipeg General Strike 1919”).

Despite all the actions of the government in conjunction with the employers, the strike still went on. At the moment the government opted to use coercion in handling the crisis through the use of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This police force used extra force on the workers on strike to the extent of killing some of them and injuring several others. The poor workers had no choice other than to get back to their jobs.

The radical split of the labor movements on political basis into communists and socialists also highly threatened the international peace.  The communist group applied violence in demand of their wishes and represented most radical movements.


The federal government used a lot of resources in the First World War. The economy was not doing well due to the rise of inflation and other relevant aspects supporting the economy. Therefore, the government required its colonies to settle as quickly as possible and embark in production processes to increase the produce and eventually attain income to strengthen their economy which was performing poorly due to the First World War. The government in due consideration preferred the return of voluntary settlement of industrial disputes that again may rise between the employers and the employees in order to make use of the set provisions of the Industrial Acts. These provisions could always work towards discouraging strikes and riots that again could have led to another period of labor conflicts (Camfield 43).

Also, the federal government preferred the application of industrial voluntarism in that they allow the existence of trade unions in their colonies. These unions could help the government in organizing the workers and disciplining their stewards. The government could consider the existence of the trade unions as advantageous as in the future they can easily lure them with the intent of gaining their support against any war that may rise again.

Voluntarism for years was a British heritage value that was highly treasured by the federal government. Therefore, the federal government wished to continue using industrial voluntarism as one way of promoting and making their culture relevant. They never wanted to put voluntarism at risk of being replaced by any other means of solving the industrial disputes. However, with all the reasons to keep industrial voluntarism, the federal government was not successful. After it failed to dominate, later the regime of industrial pluralism took over as a new mechanism of industrial problem solving (Just Labour • Volume 22 TOC • A Canadian Journal of Work and Society).

The federal government faced a lot of challenges after the end of the war. Their economy was performing poorly; therefore they needed to stabilize it back, a reason why they quickly allowed the re-establishment of important production sectors in the countries of jurisdiction. They had used a lot of dollars in the war, to the extent of borrowing some finances. This gave the government the motivation of looking for the money and paying back.

The federal government faced leadership problems after the First World War. With the rise of many parties with different ideologies which led to the 1921 election, there were a lot of disputes due to differences in ideologies. Also, the conscription crisis on men involvement in war also gave the federal government challenges.

Works Cited

Brydon, Diana, and Irena R. Makaryk. Shakespeare in Canada: A World Elsewhere. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2002. Print.

Camfield, David. Canadian Labour in Crisis: Reinventing the Workers’ Movement. Halifax: Fernwood Pub, 2011. Print.

Fudge, Judy, and Eric Tucker. Labour Before the Law: The Regulation of Workers’ Collective Action in Canada, 1900-1948. Don Mills: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.

Gobbett, Brian, and Robert Irwin. Introducing Canada: An Annotated Bibliography of Canadian History in English. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 1998. Print.

Heron, Craig. The Workers’ Revolt in Canada, 1917-1925. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1998. Print.

“Industrial Voluntarism in Canada | Relations Industrielles V65 N2 2010, P. 215-235 |.”Érudit. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 June 2015.

Jacoby, Sanford M. The Workers of Nations: Industrial Relations in a Global Economy. New York: Oxford UP, 1995. Print.

Just Labour • Volume 22 TOC • A Canadian Journal of Work and Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 June 2015.

“”Labor and Capital Before the Law” by Thomas M. Cooley.” University of Michigan Law School Scholarship Repository. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 June 2015.

“Winnipeg General Strike 1919.” News & Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 June 2015.