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CLN4U: Canadian and International Law, Grade 12, University Preparation

Labour Law
The twentieth century was a time of rapid change. The rapid rise of industry and new
technologies brought our world closer together in some ways and further apart in others.
Throughout this period of change, governments and the courts took on an increasingly
greater role in the lives of individuals and society as a whole.
Labour and the Early Industrial Period in Canada
By the mid-nineteenth century, Canada felt the effects of the Industrial Revolution that
transformed Great Britain in the previous century. The Industrial Revolution created many
political, social, and economic changes that would drastically re-shape Canada. Large
factories opened up across the country and people flocked from rural to urban areas with
the hope of obtaining jobs. The advent of machines changed the way people worked in
these new industrial jobs. New machines threatened many skilled craft workers, but at the
same time provided jobs for large numbers of unskilled workers. The work in these new
industries demanded long hours, dangerous working conditions, and poor wages. Strict
rules and regulations (with harsh punishments for any infraction of these rules) often
became the norm for workers. The factories often employed women and even very young
children for wages far below those of the average male worker. Families who needed the
wages had little say over the hardships of factory life, as they sought to survive in the
rapidly changing industrial world.
Workers often found themselves at the mercy of their employers and worldwide economic
fluctuations. During good economic times, workers usually experienced better wages (or
at least steady wages) and decent living conditions. However, during times of economic
decline, workers struggled to survive. They often faced joblessness or drastically cut
wages. Employers had total control over the workplace. No protection for workers existed
and employers had the right to hire and fire workers on a whim. Unemployed men and
women, desperate for a wage, ready to take the place of a ill worker roamed the streets.
Other individuals and groups attempted to rally fellow workers against the employer in order
to gain better pay or working conditions.
Skilled workers sought to protect their jobs and improve working conditions and wages.
Trade associations and guilds provided members with some benefits, such as helping the
family of an injured worker, but they did not act as bargaining units with employers. During
the early 1870s, skilled workers in particular, began to form local organizations, but unions
continued to be illegal in Canada until the passage of the Trade Union Act in 1872.
The Nine Hours Movement 1872
The movement formed in Hamilton, with workers across Quebec and Ontario
organizing in an effort to reduce the work day from eleven or twelve hours a day to
nine hours a day.
Printers from the Typographic Society in Toronto joined the action.
A series of strikes in support of the movement occurred on April 15, 1872 with a large
demonstration in Toronto.

Police arrested members of the Toronto Printers Vigilance strike committee and
charged them with criminal conspiracy, as well as claiming it illegal to join together in
organizations or unions for the purpose of increasing wages or lowering hours.
The movement achieved limited success. However, some industries did institute the
nine hour work day; and in the larger historical perspective, the movement helped
change legislation and proved instrumental in organizing the Canadian Labour Union.
Trade Union Act 1872
This legislation, passed by John A. Macdonald responded to the Nine Hours
It recognized unions in Canada, but employers did not have to bargain collectively
with unions.
Union workers could still be fired or employers could refuse to hire them.
Unions had to agree to pay for any damages caused during a strike.
Early Unions The Knights of Labour, the Trades and Labour Congress and the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
Knights of Labour constituted an international union that organized unskilled as well
as skilled labour in the 1880s.
Trades and Labour Congress in the 1880s organized only skilled workers and
believed that unskilled workers would weaken their position.
The IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), or Wobblies organized workers
employed mainly as common labourers. These workers are often in resource
industries such as the mining, lumber, and construction industries. Often new
immigrants are employed in these physical labour types of jobs.
The Wobblies advocated industrial action, such as strikes and in particular supported
general strikes.
The Wobblies are said to be responsible for the labour anthem still used today i.e.,
Solidarity Forever.
All three early unions struggled to survive during recessionary periods in Canada and
each eventually dissolved.
Department of Labour
In 1900 the department of Labour is established.
It became responsible for labour affairs.
Industrial Disputes Investigations Act 1907
The federal government sought to prevent strikes.
The Act stated that a compulsory investigation of the dispute had to be made by a
neutral third party before a strike or lockout could legally take place.
It mainly applied to mines, transport, and public utilities industries.
The IDIA declared the federal governments action unconstitutional, by a decision of
the Privy Council in 1925 in Toronto Electric Power Commissioners v. Snider; and
determined that jurisdiction over labour matters rested in the provinces, except for
those industries clearly national in nature or dependent on federal legislation
(because of the division of powers in ss.91 and 92 of the British North America Act).

Workers Compensation
In Ontario, prior to 1914, workers injured on the job had to sue the employer to
receive financial support. However, few workers could afford the legal process and
had no income if they became injured.
Workers often had to prove that their on the job result not from their inadequacies in
order to gain any compensation from the employer.
In 1914 the Ontario government legislated a compensation package for workers, who
in return gave up their right to sue the employer.
Benefits related to the earning power of the worker.
Workers no longer had to prove that they were not at fault for the injury.
Each province has its own Workers Compensation Act.
Winnipeg General Strike 1919
In early 1919 skilled and unskilled workers alike attempted to form into One Big
Union (OBU), recognizing that strength in numbers had definite advantages for the
working class against their employers.
They wanted fair wages, safe workplaces, and the right to bargain collectively
through unions.
In May 1919, 30 000 people left their jobs and paralyzed Winnipeg.
In June the unrest between workers and business leaders and the government
reached its climax.
On June 17, 1919 the government ordered the arrest of ten labour leaders
Protests broke out throughout the city and on June 21, police tried to break up a
parade of strikers.
The clash resulted in the deaths of two people and thirty more were injured. The day
is known as Bloody Sunday.
In the short term the strike accomplished little, and the union movement suffered a
set back as employers refused to rehire many strikers back, or forced them to sign
contracts vowing not to join a union.
Many of the strike leaders eventually ran for provincial and federal government seats
and found. Here they would introduce change and inspire new political parties
One such person J.S. Woodsworth who later helped found Co-operative
Commonwealth Federation (CCF) which became the New Democratic Party in 1961.
In the long term, the government recognized the labour movement and enacted
appropriate legislature.
Old Age Pensions Act 1927
This act provided $20 a month to those 70 years of age and older.
Participants had to pass a means test that proved they needed the money.
Canadian Congress of Labour is formed 1940
This congress allowed for the merger of all Canadian Congress of Labour union
organizations and some Congress of Industrial Organization.
It aggressively organized unskilled workers.

The Unemployment Insurance Act 1941

This act legislated the financial security for laid-off workers.
Collective Bargaining Act Ontario 1943
This act formed the first steps to getting management to recognize unions and
collective bargaining.
Both management and the employees had to bargain in good faith i.e., with the
goal of reaching a settlement.
Workers could not be discriminated against for participation in union activity.
The Act stated that Ontario Labour Court would handle disputes.
Emergency Measures Privy Council Order 1003 1944
World War II gave the responsibility of regulating industries associated with the war
effort to the federal government.
The federal government sought to prevent work stoppages during the war.
The order protected rights of workers to organize and required that employers
recognize unions chosen by the majority.
It established a system of collective bargaining and forced employees and employers
to bargain in good faith.
The order formed a major turning point in labour law as it forced employers to
negotiate with unions.
Rand Formula 1946
During a strike at Ford Motor in Windsor, the issue of union security dominated.
Unions wanted compulsory union membership where the majority of workers wanted
a union.
Federal government appointed Mr. Justice Ivan Rand of the Supreme Court to hear
both sides.
In his ruling Justice Rand stated that since all workers benefited from collective
bargaining, all workers must pay union dues, in such a place of employment where
the majority voted for a union, even if they decided not to join the union.
This regulation became known as the check-off system
Unions could also not strike during the time in which their collective agreement or
contract was in place .If they did strike individual workers and unions could be fined
for taking part in an illegal or wildcat strike.
The Rand formula gave unions financial security and improved bargaining power.
1948 Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act
This investigative act entrenched the ideas of PC 1003 that granted during the war.
It established the Canada Labour Relations Board.
1955-6 Canadian Labour Congress Merger
Under this merger the Trades and Labour Congress and Canadian Congress of
Labour joined together.
1967 Public Service Staff Relations Act
The 1967 act resulted as a response to an illegal postal strike.

It allowed public service employees to bargain collectively, and gave them the right to
strike and the right to seek arbitration.
Some public service workers such as the military and the RCMP remained exempt
from the legislation and placed limitation on unionization and the circumstances
under which they could strike.
1967 Canada Labour Code
This code consolidated many of the federal labour laws including the 1948 Industrial
Relations and Disputes Investigation Act.
1972 the Code amended the bargaining rights to groups formerly denied the right to
organize such as professionals, managers, supervisors and private police.
Updated and expanded forms of Canada Labour Code evolved over the next forty
years to reflect the need of workers and employers.

True or False
Answer true or false to the following questions by circling TRUE or FALSE:
1. The Nine Hours Movement had limited success as only a few industries instituted a
nine hour work day.

2. The Trade Union Act forced employers to bargain collectively with unions.

3. All workers in Canada are protected under the federal Workers Compensation Act.

4. The Nine Hours Movement helped to organize the Canadian Labour Union.

5. Workers under the Workers Compensation Act of 1914 had to prove that they were
not at fault for their injury.

6. The Knights of Labour only represented skilled workers.


7. The Trades and Labour Congress in the 1880s only organized skilled workers.

8. The Industrial Workers of the World became known as the Wobblies.


9. The IWW organized workers in the resource industries such as lumbering and

10. The anthem Solidarity Forever is still used today in union organizations.

11. The strikers in the Winnipeg General Strike wanted an eight hour work day, higher
wages, and that unions be recognized under the law.

12. The Winnipeg General Strike was very successful and unions became recognized
under the law in 1919.

13. The police arrested the strike leaders of the Winnipeg General Strike and no one
ever heard from them again.

14. The Industrial Disputes Investigations Act 1907 recognized unions and prevented

15. The Old Age Pensions Act of 1927 gave $20 to everyone 70 years of age or older.

16. The Canadian Congress of Labour formed in 1940 organized skilled and unskilled

17. The Unemployment Insurance Act passed into law during the Second World War.

18. The Collective Bargaining Act in Ontario in 1943 stated that workers could not be
discriminated against for belonging to a union.

19. Collective bargaining became legalized after World War II.


20. The Emergency Measures Privy Council Order (PC-1003) prevented workers from
organizing during World War II.

21. The Emergency Measures Privy Council Order (PC-1003) sought to prevent work

22. The Rand Formula stated that since all workers in a specific union local benefited
from collective bargaining, all workers had to pay union dues.

23. The Rand Formula allowed workers to strike whenever they became unhappy with
their workplace or working conditions.

24. The Rand Formula is also known as the check off system.

25. The Rand Formula gave unions financial security.


26. The Industrial Relations Act reversed the gains made in World War II.

27. The Industrial Relations Act created the Canada Labour Relations Board.

28. The Public Service Staff Relations Act denied public service workers from
bargaining collectively and the right to strike.

29. The Public Service Staff Relations Act allowed military and RCMP to strike.

30. The Canada Labour Code consolidated many of the federal labour laws and
extended bargaining rights to professionals, managers and private police.

25-30 You are a true union leader Solidarity Forever!

20-25 You are a good union supporter. Keep fighting!
15-20 I hope your pay cheque is not dependent on collective bargaining.
less than 15 Are you are part of management? Or are you a scab?