Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Voluntarism and Compulsion: The Canadian Federal Government's Intervention in Collective Bargaining from 1900 to 1946

Document type Thesis
Author Fudge, Judith
Degree Ph.D., Law
Publisher University of Oxford; Oxford, UK
Date 1988
Pages 379 pages


In February 1944 the Canadian federal government introduced Order in Council PC 1003, a system of compulsory collective bargaining which has been conventionally characterized as the culmination of the gradual evolution in federal labour relations policy towards the greater recognition of trade unions and collective bargaining. The issue addressed in this thesis is whether this characterization is accurate. As against the tendency to present federal intervention in collective bargaining as having developed towards some inevitable maturity, the account presented herein seeks to draw attention to the suppressed alternatives of history. Thus, the thesis begins with an examination of PC 1003'S historical antecedents dating back to 1900. This is followed by an examination of the developments during the Second World War. Instead of concentrating upon federal collective bargaining policy as a means of responding to wartime pressures by establishing a mechanism for mediating and resolving disputes between labour and capital, the thesis emphasizes the extent to which the policy was part of the large post-war settlement. By ignoring this, the conventional account has failed to provide any guidance for understanding either the actual provisions wheich were introduced or the longevity of PC 1003 as the dominant institutional model for Canadian labour relations. By contrast, if PC 1003 is understood as part of an attempt to forge a post-war settlement between labour and capital it is possible to identify the general thrust of the Order. Although it represented a fundamental shift in Canadian labour policy in that employers were compelled to recognize unions for the purpose of collective agreements, PC 1003 did not radically alter the balance of power to make it easier to organize or constrain managerial prerogatives. In fact, PC 1003 was consistent with the federal government's historical preoccupation with promoting responsible unions and attaining industrial peace and stability.