Larry Savage, Professor of Labour Studies at Brock University, had a piece recently published in The Hamilton Spectator about the possibility of an increase in labour union militancy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Will we see a spike in strike activity in the wake of COVID-19? The last decade saw fewer working days lost to strikes or lockouts than any other decade in the post the Second World War era. In fact, work stoppages have been in decline since the 1970s. But with workplace tensions on the rise as a result of COVID-19, will unions once again embrace strikes as a preferred method to protect and advance workers’ interests?
The current battle over workplace safety at the Cargill meat-packing plant in Alberta, where one worker has died and nearly 1,000 workers have been infected by the virus, highlights what is at stake for union members. Slaughterhouse workers, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, are currently at loggerheads with management over the latter’s decision to reopen the plant despite overwhelming fears that it is not yet safe to do so.
While these workers have not yet organized a walkout in protest, similar actions by Amazon warehouse workers in the United States could spill over into Canada if governments and employers fail to address the immediate concerns of workers.”
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