Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Is Industrial Unrest Reviving in Canada? Strike Duration in the Early Twenty-First Century: Is Industrial Unrest Reviving in Canada?

Document type Article
Author Bauer, Louise Birdsell
Author Brym, Robert
Author McIvor, Mitch
Journal Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie
Volume 50
Date 2013 05
ISSN 1755-6171
Pages 227-238


Canadian data on strike frequency, duration, and volume imply that the strike is withering away. Some research also suggests that strike duration is countercyclical. However, the early twenty‐first century was anomalous from the viewpoint of these expectations. After 2001, mean strike duration increased and was not countercyclical. This paper explains the anomaly by arguing that employers are seeking to scale back the wage gains of previous decades in the face of mounting public debt and the whip of an increasingly unfettered market. These conditions apparently motivate some workers to endure protracted work stoppages, irrespective of the phase of the business cycle, in an effort to protect their rights.