Harnessing Labour Confrontation: Shaping the Postwar Settlement in Canada, 1943-1950


258 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8439-7
DDC 331'.0971'09044




Reviewed by W.J.C. Cherwinski

W.J.C. Cherwinski is a professor of history and Canadian Studies Program
supervisor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is the coauthor of
Lectures in Canadian Labour and Working-Class History.


This book focuses on seven crucial years in the middle of the 20th
century that shaped the development of industrial relations policy and
practice for the next half century. Although there was considerable
worker unrest in the period immediately following World War II, the
long-term result was labor peace as workers bought into North American
consumerism (although at the expense of the right to protest).

McInnis, a Halifax-based writer and researcher, examines the industrial
unions that gained strength during the 1930s in spite of concerted
resistance on the part of employers and governments. During World War
II, the need to maintain productivity in the crusade against fascism
meant the return of the federal government to its former power in the
industrial relations process. The consequence for industrial workers was
access to full employment at decent wages. The industrial relations
process was enshrined in legislation.

After the war, employers attempted to regain lost ground, and a number
of disputes resulted. At the same time, the availability of a growing
variety of consumer goods caused workers to reign in their expectations
for social change in favor of a steady, lucrative pay packet. The
industrial relations scene was cemented, but with little regard for the
growing number of women entering the workforce.

McInnis’s comprehensive and well-written book is based on solid
research and a recognition of the complexity of his subject.


McInnis, Peter S., “Harnessing Labour Confrontation: Shaping the Postwar Settlement in Canada, 1943-1950,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 4, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/30268.