In 1980, unions were much more powerful than they had been in 1905. This was because they had many more members. In fact, 37% of workers were unionized in 1980, compared to 17% in 1921. Many of the new union members were government employees and actively campaigned to improve their working conditions. In addition to obtaining better working conditions for their members, the Quebec unions participated in the improvement of labor laws, which had an impact on all workers

Important improvements

Through the combined efforts of trade unions, pressure groups and governments, the situation for Quebec workers was much better than it had been in the 1960s. First, in 1965, the Quebec government had given public service employees the public the right to form unions and to strike. It also prohibited the use of strikebreakers and in 1977, introduced compulsory union contributions. In 1979, the government created the Commission on Health and Safety (OHS), an organization whose mandate was to ensure the safety of Quebec workers. It established safety standards, compensated work-accident victims and punished companies whose working environment was not safe

As a result the working conditions for all Quebeckers were better in 1980 than they had been in 1905. Workers’ rights were respected, they could work in a safe environment and they had the right to negotiate with their employers.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix