Why the Winnipeg General Strike Still Matters

Why the Winnipeg General Strike Still Matters

SUBTITLE'S INFO:

Language: English

Type: Robot

Number of phrases: 263

Number of words: 1691

Number of symbols: 8204

DOWNLOAD SUBTITLES:

DOWNLOAD AUDIO AND VIDEO:

SUBTITLES:

Subtitles generated by robot
00:00
in just a few weeks we will be in the midst of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg general strike where thousands of workers walked off the job initially to support the traditional bargaining demands from some of the cities establish unions but eventually to demonstrate a more systemic challenge to the social political and economic status quo which reigned across Canada in the aftermath of the Great War but this is all so far away from us today isn't it oh the efforts of those working-class and
00:31
socialist activists however storied a relic of the past what can it all mean in an age like ours turns out a heck of a whole lot the strike took place in the spring of 1919 in a context of deep socio-economic strife the end of the war led to unemployment which was exacerbated by veterans returning from the European front this war was not only meant to end all war but to usher in a just social order as we know neither happened and this left many Canadians dismayed in
01:01
this context building and metal Trades workers appeal to the trades and Labour Congress Council and Winnipeg to support them in a general sympathetic strike to win key demands such as recognition of their bargaining units the result no doubt driven in part by a climate of social injustice led to most of the city's working class population striking and shutting Winnipeg down this led to a coordinated counter assault as the Canadian state the Royal Northwest Mounted Police the Winnipeg press a special group of police officers which were basically scabs replacing the
01:33
strike supporting city police and the city's elite organized into the shadowy Citizens Committee of 1,000 work to successfully break the strike by demonizing quote-unquote alien elements among the strikers and by arresting its leaders and this way the strike could be deemed a defeat at least in the immediate term as capital reasserted dominance over the city and didn't meet the strikers demand but such is not the case and in both the short term onward the strike led to positive reforms the rise of new labor organizations and the birth of new political parties beyond
02:05
this comes the reality that the lessons of the strike apply still today indeed the strike remains relevant not just because it stands as a crucial watershed of Canada's labor and left movements but because the very things that make the strike special speak to some of the challenges that continue to face working people and given massive inequality along with a multi-generational assault on the rights and expectations of working Canadians it may well be the case that the lessons of Winnipeg are as relevant today as that have been at any point since the end of the Second World
02:36
War first a key element of the strike was that while it started with a basis among Winnipeg's craft union establishment it quickly spread to cover nearly the entirety of the city's working-class Union and non-union this was crucial because only a small portion of workers in the city and country belong to unions at the time and this was before the widespread advent of industrial unions which aimed to organize the broad masses of working people by building a strike untethered to formalize union membership the
03:05
strikers demonstrated power rooted in the universal concerns of the working-class today there are more workers unionized than in 1919 and those unions are much more recognized established and well resourced still the majority of working people do not belong to a union but still have a desire for a more secure and dignified life so while the rowland demands of traditional unions have enduring value we also need to recognize that groups like the fight for fifteen are doing essential work to bring improved workplace standards to
03:36
all Canadians even if they aren't covered by a collective agreement in their actions they are upholding one of the core principles of Winnipeg 1919 second the strike was a moment of inter-ethnic solidarity among Winnipeg's working people even though there were real divisions between the cities Anglo Canadian workers and the growing population of immigrants largely from Eastern Europe indeed most of Winnipeg's were unionized working people belonged to the relatively exclusive craft unions which were indifferent at best and often hostile at worst to the growing
04:07
immigrant population from non British Isles countries despite this the strike unified working people in the city against the capitalist class whatever their nationality or citizenship status which caused existential terror among the elite in this way they launched attacks against strikers by disproportionately targeting the city immigrant class who are deemed to be part of a subversive quote-unquote alien insurrection against venerated British traditions and institutions this has a multifaceted relevance today largely
04:38
because workers in our own time are still divided by race religion and citizenship status which allows a much more tight-knit capitalist class to perpetuate its power as it was in Winnipeg it must be understood by workers today that if we are to build a more just society the victory can't just be one for and by Western European Canadians with citizenship it must include all working people in this country set learned or indigenous permanent or temporary racialized or not but while there is a need for a more comprehensive solidarity amongst workers
05:10
we must grapple with the reality that challenges be they contemporary or historical are not born equally and as such those of us with greater legal social and economic security must stand for the rights of others building off of this when the peg was special paradoxically because it wasn't a purely unique event the strike must be seen not as an isolated incident but as part of a national and even international revolt the experience of the Great War in its immediate aftermath sharpened the class analysis which
05:42
rolled out across Canada with labour revolts taking place from Victoria to Amherst Nova Scotia with political parties uniting farmers and workers for the first time with leftists and trade unionists protesting across much of Europe in the United States and with a socialist revolution in Russia that inspired working people the world over even if they didn't all agree with the specific aims and outcomes of that revolution simply put Winnipeg 1919 has to be seen as part of a global movement however much it stood out admirably as a
06:12
particularly potent example finally we must remember Winnipeg is a general revolt against capitalism broadly defined in some ways there may be a desire to whitewash the goals of the general strikers making the event more palatable for modern audiences and governments who want to harness the legacy of this foundational event but don't want to reckon with the fundamental aims of set events actors to be sure many if not most of the strikers were not in favor of violent overthrow of the Canadian state by Bolshevik and all all wanted a total transition
06:43
away from the systems of private property and market economies but neither was this merely a demonstration for meager reforms within a capitalist rubric this was a broad endeavor for a new social order and while the strikers didn't all agree on what that order would it resemble they all stood in opposition to the stock economic inequalities the failures of private control of major industry the lack of democracy within and beyond the workplace and they stood in favor of a general idea that the basic human rights needed to trump the narrow and
07:15
unaccountable desires of profit and of capital today we can see much of the same thing many of us have real issues with the state of our society and while the solutions aren't always held in common there is a sense that a deep unfairness pervades most every nook and cranny the strike and the general labor revolt was valuable because it channelled the broad discontent into a critique of capitalist society and so today we need a coalition of the left and labor to do much the same certainly the voices in that coalition will
07:47
disagree on a great deal but they must insist on a common program which will find mass appeal among the broad working-class 100 years later much has changed it would be hard to argue that Canada isn't a more humane and just place overall but we can't hide the fact that we still have unfinished battles left over from Winnipeg 1919 and the general labor revolt it was a part of this year there will be various memorials & conferences dedicated to studying and commemorating the strike but crucially these events are also taking the opportunity to look forward
08:18
and see how we can do the legacy of Winnipeg proud over the next century the women and men who put it all on the line in 1919 they deserve nothing less so thanks everybody for listening to this episode I hope you enjoyed it this is a kind of a distillation of some of the thoughts I've written down in other places part of this is covered in a recent forward I did for a new edition of kind of the workers history of the Winnipeg general strike which I've published with Lorimer if you want to
08:49
see the the cover I've posted it up here on the screen I've also posted a link in the description option be sure to pick up a copy of that it's a fantastic resource about how the workers themselves interpreted the events of the strike you know in the years following it if you like this video please like it comment subscribe share it with your friends be sure to to look forward to more historical content on this channel as well as other stuff again in uncovered contemporary left politics and I also talked about things like the Simpsons from time to time so
09:21
if you like you know --left content broadly defined you'll find it here and I'll see you next time

DOWNLOAD SUBTITLES: