Labour laws and the development of the labour movement in Newfoundland, 1900-1960

Akyeampong, Ernest Bugya (1967) Labour laws and the development of the labour movement in Newfoundland, 1900-1960. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This is an attempt to outline the legal and economic framework within which trade unions have functioned and developed in the island of Newfoundland. -- The paper begins with a brief account of the economic, social and political background of the island. Thereafter, it is divided basically into two parts. The first part outlines the labour laws in the island before and after Newfoundland became the Tenth Province of Canada. The pre-1949 labour laws were patterned on British labour legislation. However, after 1949, it became necessary to either enact new laws or revise the old ones so as to make them conform substantially with those of other parts of Canada. -- The Labour Legislative Committee which advised the government of Newfoundland was comprised mainly of trade unionists. It was therefore not surprising that the immediate post-1949 labour laws of Newfoundland heavily favoured the trade unions. The result was that the labour movement in Newfoundland was able to make great strides in the years immediately following the island's union with Canada. -- After the bitter International Woodworkers of America (I.W.A.) strike in 1958/59, the government of Newfoundland passed two labour acts, the effect of which was to sever the "friendly" links between organized labour and the Newfoundland government. These two acts in question tended to weaken the labour movement. -- The first part ends with a comparison of labour legislation in Newfoundland and other parts of Canada, especially that of the Atlantic Provinces. An attempt is also made to appraise, critically, the Newfoundland labour laws. -- The second part of the paper tries to trace the development of the labour movement in Newfoundland. An attempt is also made, in this part, to explain how the structure and nature of the labour force in the island - namely, its heavy reliance on the seasonal fishing and logging industries - did not favour the growth of trade unions. This second part of the paper outlines the formation of the first Newfoundland trade union, that is the Seal Skinners' Union of St. John's in 1854. However, the real foundation of the labour movement in Newfoundland can be traced to the building of the trans-island railway, as well as to the establishment of the pulp and paper industries in the island. -- The formation of the Newfoundland Federation of Labour in 1937, its growth and subsequent affiliation to the Canadian Labour Congress is outlined. -- An attempt is made to suggest reasons why the Newfoundland Federation of Labour is not as strong a movement as it was before the I.W.A. strike and the possible ways by which the Federation can increase its membership and effectiveness in the province. -- The thesis concludes with a detailed account concerning the causes and development of the bitter 1958/59 International Woodworkers of America (I.W.A.) strike which made headline news all over North America, and the implications of this dispute for the labour movement in the province.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7176
Item ID: 7176
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 147-149.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Economics
Date: 1967
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Labor laws and legislation--Newfoundland and Labrador; Labor movement--Newfoundland and Labrador--History; Working class--Newfoundland and Labrador--History

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