Important events in the history of our trade unions

From 1800 to 1900, many events occurred that built our current status. That was when everything began. Trade unions were secret. They went on strike and demonstrated for the first time. In 1872, Canada began to develop awareness about its workers and employers. Thanks to Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, the law that criminalized union meetings was abolished. The meetings were henceforth recognized as legal since they were “enshrined”. Let’s be honest; the law then became dead letter, meaning that the legislation enshrining unions still existed but was ignored.

The same year, the movement for a nine-hour workday was created. It prompted Sir John A. Macdonald to help workers so as to create a degree of harmony in his relations with the working class for the coming years.

A detail was not mentioned in 1877. Bear in mind that the Masters and Servants Act was among the laws intended to regulate relations between employers and employees in the 18th and 19th centuries. If “servant” employees did not obey their “master” employer, they could be sent to prison or hard labour. A majority of the unions that tried to establish better working conditions could bear the consequences under that legislation. The abolition of the first law, the Trade Unions Act, did not stop employers from punishing the community. Unions were an obstacle to trade, and employers were prepared to do everything in their power to stop them and make more money on the backs of Canadian workers.

In short, as of 1880, Canadian workers continued to create other unions. They did not give up the battle for better working conditions. More strikes occurred. A movement brought with it the Knights of Labour; a group broader than anything seen before. Canadian workers rebelled to ensure their rights and we must continue to do so when we see an irregularity or an injustice. Together, the Canadian population is strong. Solidarity! Thanks to the people who advanced the rights of Canadian workers.

Union of Canadian Transportation Employees

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