Causes Of The Winnipeg General Strike

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A staggering 30,000 Winnipeg citizens refused to work between May 15 to June 25 of 1919 in Canada’s largest and best known strike, the Winnipeg General Strike. After World War I, Canada was not in a peaceful state, as soldiers returned to find their original jobs occupied, and horrid wages and working conditions for workers. With unemployment and bankruptcy rates reaching their highest ever, 30,000 Winnipeg citizens held a strike, declining to return to their jobs until they have been granted the right of collective bargaining for better wages and working conditions. While the workers were defeated in the strike by the ‘Citizen’s Committee of 1,000’ consisting of Winnipeg’s wealthy elite with a large portion of factory owners, it has had an …show more content…
The 30,000 employees who left their jobs within hours fought for collective bargaining to allow better wages and working conditions. The response by the employees were unanimous - as all workers refused to work, Winnipeg’s factories closed down. This resulted in a crippling of retail trade in Winnipeg, and trains were stopped. Impressively, even public-sector (governmental) employees such as telephone operators, firemen, postal workers, and policemen joined the workers of the private-sector, displaying unity and solidarity among all Winnipeggers. Inevitably, there would be opposition to the strike. However, the opposition, ‘the Citizens’ Committee of 1000’, only consisted of 3% of citizens compared to the One Big Union (created by the employees). The Citizen’s Committee constituted of Winnipeg’s 1,000 most wealthy and prosperous employers, including politicians, bankers and factory owners. On June 17, the government arrested 10 leaders from the Central Strike Committee as well as two propagandists from the One Big Union. Four days later, known as “Bloody Saturday”, the Royal North-West Mounted Police charged into a crowd of strikers during a protest, as federal troops occupied Winnipeg streets. This unfortunate day of bloodshed resulted in multiple arrests, 30 injuries, and one death. On June 25, 1919 at 11AM, the Central Strike Committee officially ended the strike. The General Strike caused a raise in unity, and generated sympathy strikes from Victoria, British Columbia to Amherst, Nova Scotia, as well as a lot of controversy among labor unions across

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