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Labour rights are Human rights

Historical Events

January 27, 1986

The National Union released its study, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: A Doubled-Edged Sword for Unions? NUPGE was the first union to sound the alarm with respect to the possibility that the “freedom of association” clause contained in the 1985 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms might not adequately protect the right to freedom of association for Canadian workers.

January 29, 1946

This was the date that Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ivan Rand handed down his arbitration decision ending the Ford strike of 1945 in Windsor, Ontario. As part of his decision, Justice Rand came up with a formula based on the assumption that the union is essential for all workers and must be responsible for them and have the financial means to carry out its programs. The Rand Formula requires an employer to deduct the same portion of the salaries of all employees within a bargaining unit, union members or not, to go to the union as union dues. The Canada Labour Code and most provincial labour relations laws contain provisions requiring the Rand formula when certain conditions are met.

January 1, 1915

The first workers’ compensation legislation in Canada, the Ontario Workers’ Compensation Act, was proclaimed. The legislation was the result of a Royal Commission headed by William Meredith who proposed the “historic trade off” where workers gave up the right to sue their employers for a guaranteed protection from loss of income regardless of fault.

January 12, 1912

This date marks the beginning of the famous “Bread and Roses” strike of textile mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, one of the most significant struggles in the history of the North American labour movement. Over 20,000 workers (mostly young immigrant women) walked out of the mills in spontaneous protest against a pay cut. During the strike, the women carried banners proclaiming "Bread and Roses", symbolizing their demands for not only a living wage but a decent and human life. This inspired James Oppenheim’s poem "Bread and Roses” which was a letter set to music by Martha Coleman. The song underwent resurgence in the 1970s with the rise and importance of women in the labour movement, becoming the anthem of women trade unionists in Canada and the United States.

January 18, 1874

Daniel O’Donoghue, who is often referred to as the “Father of Canadian Labour” was the first labour representative to be elected to a Canadian legislature. An Ottawa printer, he was elected to the Ontario legislature in an Ottawa by-election.

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Draft a resolution

Draft and sponsor a resolution to your Federation of Labour or Labour Council condemning the use of labour laws that restrict or deny the fundamental rights of workers and proposing that progressive labour law reform be a central focus of labour’s political agenda.

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