Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Harnessing Confrontation: The Growth and Consolidation of Industrial Legality in Canada, 1943-1950

Document type Thesis
Author McInnis, Peter Stuart
Author McInnis, Peter S. (Peter Stuart)
Degree Ph.D., History
Publisher Queen's University; Kingston, Ont.
Date 1996
Pages 422


This study examines the critical years in which the Canadian industrial relations system assumed many of its lasting characteristics. Specifically, it explores the actions of management, unions, and the federal state under the exceptional conditions of the wartime "command economy" and later, with the transition back to a peacetime footing. Frustrated with the inadequacy of existing collective bargaining legislation, and sensing that this period signalled a realignment in the labour-capital relationship, Canadian workers took advantage of special wartime conditions to press home their demands for basic workplace rights framed by a more equitable labour code. The result of this campaign was the establishment of a new legal framework which defined the respective roles for all three groups over the next thirty years. Of particular importance is an investigation of the ambivalent legacy achieved by the Canadian labour movement with its pursuit of the essential rights of free association and collective bargaining. Building on the intense workplace struggles of the war years, labour pushed federal authorities to support mandatory collective bargaining, compulsory wage deductions of union dues, finally entrenching these reforms under the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act (1948).