Winnipeg, MB – Over the weekend, organized labour in Canada celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.
The Immediate post-World War 1 period in Canada was not a time of peace. Soldiers returned home wanting jobs and a normal lifestyle again, only to find factories shutting down and soaring unemployment. Corporate profiteering fed inflation and a high cost of living. Poor factory working conditions caused worker unrest. Social tensions grew.
The labour movement in Canada had learned clearly: it had to move into direct political action, if workers’ rights were to be protected. The spark that ignited the Winnipeg General Strike was provided by Machinists from IAM Local Lodge 122 under the leadership of R.B. Russell and Peter Henrenchuk at Dominion Bridge.
By 11:00 am on Thursday May 15, 1919, virtually the entire working population of Winnipeg had gone on strike. Some 30,000 workers in the private and public sectors had walked off the job.
One hundred years later the Machinists were front and center in a parade through the streets of Winnipeg to celebrate the actions of their militant predecessors.