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This month in labour history

03/07/2019

LabourStart Canada

This month in labour history

9-03-1906 Mineworkers in the Lethbridge, Alberta district go on strike against poverty wages and are met by scabs, police and private detectives. They win a small wage increase with the help of a mediator, but the company refuses to recognize the union. 

4-03-1910 An avalanche in the Rogers Pass, British Columbia, takes the lives of workers clearing snow from Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. A total of 62 bodies are recovered, including four the following spring. The dead include 32 contract labourers from Japan. 

27-03-1912 Thousands of workers start to walk out of railway construction camps on the Fraser River in British Columbia in a strike led by the Industrial Workers of the World. When Joe Hill visits, he writes a song for the Wobbly song book.

13-03-1919 In Calgary, Alberta, the Western Canadian Labour Conference calls for sweeping political and economic changes, including abolition of production for profit and the organization of workers on industrial lines. They adopt the name One Big Union. 

31-03-1949 The Canadian Seamen's Union launches a strike to defend union contracts. Shipping companies and Canadian authorities collaborate with the Seafarers' International Union to drive out the CSU. 

10-03-1957 Copper miners at Murdochville, Quebec launch a strike for union recognition. The unsuccessful struggle lasts seven months and the courts award Noranda Mines $1.5 million in damages, to be paid by the United Steelworkers. 

17-03-1960 Five Italian immigrant workers die in an underground tunnel at a watermain construction project in suburban Toronto. The Hoggs Hollow Disaster draws public attention to the unsafe conditions in construction and the exploitation of immigrant workers. 

7-03-1978 Women workers begin a 23-week strike for a first contract at a small auto parts plant in Centralia, Ontario. The Fleck workers' militancy wins wide support and shows the need for reforms in labour law. 

 8-03-1980 In Hamilton, Ontario, an International Women's Day rally features the Women Back Into Stelco campaign. A human rights complaint by five women forces a major steel company to change their hiring practices. 

 31-03-2004 Bill C-45 comes into force, amending the Criminal Code to impose penalties on corporations and managers for violations causing workplace injuries or death. It is named the Westray Bill after the 1992 mine disaster. 

12-03-2012 Union organizer and feminist Madeleine Parent, born in Montreal in 1918, dies at age 93 after a lifetime of service to the organization of workers and the cause of social justice.