Canadian Manufacturing

Canada’s biggest strikes

A look at some of the biggest and most influential labor action in Canadian history

2009-10: Vale strike

More than 3,100 Vale workers in Sudbury and Port Colborne, Ont. went on strike in July 2009 over cuts to pensions and bonuses. The year-long strike between the United Steelworkers and Brazilian-based Vale was settled with a new contract that included raises and bonuses related to nickel prices. It surpassed the 1978-79 Inco strike as the longest in Canadian history.  Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Gino Donato


Photo: Ford Motor Co. and Wieck Media Services, Inc.

1945: Ford strike

Around 10,000 Ford Motor Co. of Canada workers walked off the job in Windsor, Ont. demanding a new contract. Represented by the United Auto Workers, strikers created a motor-car barrier outside of the plant during the three-month long strike. Some employees at nearby plants joined picketers in sympathy. The workers eventually agreed to return to work.

1946: Stelco strike

At the Steel Company of Canada in Hamilton, Ont. more than 2,000 employees went on strike over work week hours and wages. Although the company brought in replacement workers, strikers managed to stop the flow of supplies to the plant. It ended several weeks later with Stelco’s recognition of the United Steelworkers union.

1949: Asbestos strike

Seeking better health conditions and wages, at least 5,000 workers from several mines in the Asbestos, Que. region rallied against employers, such as the Johns Manville Corp. The four-month long strike was one of the most violent in Canadian history.

1978-79: Inco strike

Around 2,400 miners at Inco’s Sudbury mine operations went on strike in 1978 after their contract ran up and the company, which is now Vale, proposed cuts. The strike lasted eight months before being resolved with wage increases and benefits, although it had a big effect on the city’s economy and the world market for nickel.

1996: GM strike

Members of the Canadian Auto Workers at General Motors’s Oshawa truck plant went on strike for three weeks over job outsourcing to subcontractors. The parties eventually agreed GM could buy more parts from suppliers if union jobs could be protected.

2007: CP Rail strike

A Canada-wide strike involving 3,000 Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. maintenance workers erupted in May 2007 over wage increases. The Teamsters union and CP Rail agreed to negotiate a new contract three weeks later. Some shipping companies complained of service interruptions during the period.

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