This May, Canada marks the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike, when tens of thousands of people walked off their jobs in sympathy and solidarity with building and metal trades workers whose employers were refusing to bargain for fair wages and working conditions.Though the strike failed in its immediate goals, the example it set reverberated across the country and the world, inspiring political upheaval at all levels in Canada, and ultimately transforming the balance of power between workers and the bosses for many generations.
In this issue of the Monitor we consider the value of direct action and solidarity strikes in a new era of retrenching labour rights, out-of-control inequality and conservative backlash. “Workers can make great gains by withdrawing their labour power. But they also risk a lot,” writes the Graphic History Collective in their introduction to our special feature on the strike. “The stakes in class struggle are high.” True. But so are the costs of not acting. Today, as it was 100 years ago, we must continually fight for fair pay and good jobs for everyone—or be prepared to live in a world where neither exists for anyone.
Here's a sample of what you'll find in this issue:
- Direct Action Gets the Goods! A printable timeline of Canadian strikes from the Graphic History Collective.
- 1919: Causes and Consequences: Paul Moist recounts the organizing that went into the strike and its legacy 100 years on.
- Women, rights and work—from 1919 to the #MeToo movement: Molly McCracken interviews Julie Guard on labour's need to organize more female workers.
- The year labour makes history: Learning from failures like the Winnipeg General Strike and Kirkland Lake organization drive can strengthen the movement for true worker democracy, writes Jon Weier.
- Work Life: Canada's "yellow vest" movement needs more gilets jaunes, writes Lynne Fernandez in her latest column.
- Frontlines of the class: We all win when teachers strike. But, as Erika Shaker argues, parents, children and communities need to see themselves in the struggle.
- Striking for survival: The right to strike in Canada is under attack and back-to-work legislation now commonplace Bruno Dobrusin calls on workers to embrace the mass walkout, both legal and illegal, as a tool for social change.
- Lessons in South Korean protest culture: President Moon is backsliding on important labour reforms, but workers continue to resist in innovative ways, writes Zaee Desphande.
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