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The Winnipeg General Strike
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The Winnipeg General Strike

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Grade 10 History class

Grade 10 History class

Published in: Career
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  • 1. The Winnipeg General Strike The Labour Movement in Canada
  • 2. Readings
    • From William Lyon Mackenzie King: The loner who kept Canada together , read page 17, the sections on ‘Willie invents the company union’
  • 3. WWI and employment
    • During the First World War, as young Canadian men went overseas, it became more and more difficult to find workers back in Canada
    • For those who remained, this meant that you could get high wages
    • Leads to inflation
  • 4.
    • When the war ends, 500 000 men return from overseas and come looking for work
    • Meanwhile companies and owners are looking to reverse gains made by employees
    • Radical labour groups form, inspired by the Communist movement
    • Governments oppose these labour groups and the creation of unions
  • 5. One Big Union
    • In 1919, workers in Western Canada form a group called the One Big Union (OBU)
    • Looking for better wages, a five-day work week, and legal recognition of the union
    • By the end of 1919, had 50 000 people as members
  • 6. Winnipeg General Strike
    • In May 1919, negotiations break down between employers and men working in building and metal trades
    • Workers go on strike, and call for a city wide strike
  • 7.
    • Within hours 30 000 workers had gone on strike, as 94 of 96 unions agree to go on strike
    • City comes to a halt
  • 8. Citizens Committee of 1000
    • Made up of manufacturers, bankers and politicians (Winnipeg’s elite)
    • Formed to oppose the strike
    • Got support of government and the military
    • Portrayed the strike leaders as “alien scum”
  • 9. Bloody Saturday
    • June 17 th – special police arrest strike leaders
    • June 21 st – protests turn into riots, and police and military attack protesters
    • 1 killed, at least 20 wounded
  • 10. Lingering Effects
    • By June 25 th the strike is over
    • Bitterness remains in Winnipeg for decades afterwards
    • Conservative Party loses election of 1921
    • Leads to much improved working conditions

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