Labour relations in the Saskatchewan coal mines during the 1930s
Makahonuk, Glen Richard
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Labour relations are concerned with the dynamic interactions among workers, unions, employers, and government. These groups are engaged in a struggle for power; that is, the ability to achieve one's objectives despite resistance. This struggle usually results in a power conflict. The power conflict mayor may not create 'good' labour relations; that is, the establishment of mutual cooperation among the groups. The power conflict usually results in 'poor' labour relations as expressed by strikes. Strikes seem to be the main feature of labour relations. Practically all the evidence accumulated on labour relations is concerned with strikes or the threat of strikes. Consequently, the evidence used in this thesis is concerned with the ten strikes which occurred in the coal mines of the Estevan-Bienfait area of Saskatchewan during the 1930s. The ten strikes were concerned with different issues. Strikes on September 8, 1931, October 3, 7, 17, 1938, and October 16, 1939, primarily involved wages, working conditions, and union recognition. The January 28 and February 23, 1932 strikes were caused by the refusal of some miners to join the Mine Workers Union of Canada and pay their dues. The strikes on February 22, 1932 and November l0, 1937 were concerned with the rein statement of a dismissed miner. The February 24, 1932 strike involved a sympathy display for the miners striking because their checkweighman was dismissed. These strikes occurred during the depression when both operators and miners found themselves in very difficult situations. There was little cooperation between management and labour as each group sought, in its own way, to increase its power, and to improve its economic position. Government attempts to restore peace and harmony to the troubled coal industry were also fraught with frustration. Labour relations in the Saskatchewan coal mines during the 1930s were characterized by conflict, frustration, and frequent work disruptions. This thesis examines the labour relations of that troubled industry.