Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Direct action and the strike

Document type Article
Author Graphic History Collective
Journal Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Volume 25
Date 2019 March April
Pages 48 pages


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. --Introduction