Winnipeg General Strike
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Advocates for Socialism
The Winnipeg General Strike
What was happening in the year 1919? Well, the First World War had finished, and the soldiers were returning home. The Depression would not come for approximately ten more years. So why weren’t people happy and life brimming with opportunity? What was happening that would lead to such labour and social strife? Relations between Canadian workers and employers were becoming explosive. The Canadian working class was being treated without any social justice. So they had one choice, to stand up and make their voices be heard because if they did not fight, resist, organize and unify to get the power to control their own lives then they would have had to wear the exaggerated look of captivity. Was what happened to Winnipeg an attempt of a revolution? The Canadian working class wanted a revolution, which they deserved, and had the right to strike against the government. For example, the government promised returning soldiers jobs and more money but they did not receive what they were promised and people were being paid extremely low wages compared to what they deserved. Also, minorities were being treated unfairly. They were paid even lower wages then the average wage. Lastly, working conditions were not at all suitable. Workers were risking their lives to make enough money to pay for food.

The Canadian working class deserved high wages then what they were receiving, this is one reason why the strikers had the right to strike against the government. For example, in Winnipeg, workers walked off the job for six weeks and in the process, they tied up railroads, the postal service, and the police force. The citys unions heeded the centrals call, and “more than 20,000 men, who with their families made up nearly half the population, stopped work for three days.” However, the strike was not only taking place in Winnipeg. All across Canada the working class was having issues with money. No where in Canada were minimum wages high enough to allow even full-time workers to escape poverty.5 Individuals were angry that corporations made profits during the war, while others suffered. People could not find jobs and there was hardly enough money to pay for high cost of living due to the increase of inflation. Prices were rising much faster then wages were so people were starting to go into dept even more then they all ready were. Soldiers coming home from the war were promised finical assistance, however, they were not given any. Lastly, The strikers could not support families because of high cost of living. Therefore, if the cost of living and inflation did not balance out, the people could go through a depression. Since the strike continued for so long, the people debts continued to grow even more. So they needed fight for higher wages and had the right to strike to that they could possible avoid a depression.

Secondly, strikers had the right to strike against the government because most of them were being treated unfairly, especially the minorities. William Haywood declared that “if I didnt think that the general strike was leading on to the great revolution which will emancipate the working class, I wouldnt be here.”6 He believed that everyone should have the same rights and that every striker deserved a revolution. Female workers were not supported equally. There were a series of protective factory and mines laws in which affected only working class women for only they did such physical labour; these laws limited the hours of work of female workers.7 Some of the wealthy people thought “a womans place is in the home” and that women should not be working anyway, but they needed to try to support their families the best they could because of low wages and dept. Even children were working to make more money, but the were also treated very badly. It was cheap labour and children were prohibited from some kinds of work. For example, underground work in the mines was entirely banned for children. Although this was probably a good idea, many families still could barley put food on the table and children needed to help out by working and their jobs were limited. Lastly, Blacks were treated primarily as a source of cheap labour. They were not looked upon as “equal” in any way. People thought of them as “lower then dirt itself”8. Blacks were not given high paying jobs and had to work more hours then an average working class White man to get even still less pay. Thus, it was difficult for these people to live with the restrictions they were given. They deserved much better then what they were receiving and, therefore, had the right to strike against the government.

Lastly, the strikers deserved improvement of often-dreadful working conditions.
A veteran wrote “in Germany, I fed on grass and rats. I would prefer going back to eating grass than give up the freedom for which I fought so hard and suffered so much.”9 People were suffering from working conditions

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Canadian Working Class And T People. (June 14, 2021). Retrieved from