Winnipeg General Strike

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The Winnipeg General Strike happened from May 15-June 25, 1919. This strike is Canada’s best known strike in its history. Massive unemployment and inflation, the success of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and rising Revolutionary Industrial Unionism, all were contributions to the postwar labor unrest that put the strike in motion. In March 1919 western labour leaders met in Calgary to discuss the creation of OBU (One Big Union). In Winnipeg on May 15, when negotiations broke down between management and labour in the building and metal trades, the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council (WTLC) called a general strike. They were fighting for the principles of collective bargaining, and better wages and working conditions. Shortly afterwards, …show more content…

We remember the strike as interesting and important because in the labour movement our understanding of the strike is shaped by organizations who remembered it for us. The strike lives on today mostly because every working-class person in Winnipeg claimed the strike as its own. People believe that the strike led to the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) and NDP (New Democratic Party). And, although it died out in the decades after the strike, the OBU has a strong claim for a connection being that it was a product of 1919. The effect in Winnipeg, after the general strike was large, diverse, and fascinating; they drew many different conclusions about the strike. The socialist leadership of the strike ended up in the OBU and in the ILP (Independent Labour Party). It was the latter that made important electoral breakthrough as several of them were elected, from jail, to the Manitoba Legislature. The fact that the ILP was an electoral party and that it eventually joined the CCF when it emerged in the 1930s, does not mean that they should simply be dismissed as social democrats. They still talked about revolutionary change. They ran in elections, but, for a time in the 1930s, disconnected from the CCF because of what they considered its non-working-class composition. The OBU played an important role politically and culturally. A Women’s Labour organization formed and debated the

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