Working in factories became a new kind of job experience in Canada between the 1840’s-1930’s whether it was a clothing, textile, or industry worker. It was an industry of disaster that seemed to hang for most of those years. There were many strikes at this time by the factory workers about the working conditions, new machinery that could cause workers to lose their jobs, and many more. Those years were very hard for factory workers. Factory workers included men, women, and children. The hours were long and the pay was very low, working 9-12 hours a day, six days a week. People worked together in large numbers in the new factories along with a lot of noise, smoke and dirt. Accidents in the work place were very common in the factories and if the workers could not perform or do their job well, there were many other people who could replace them.
The managers did not care for their safety The managers decided to be more discipline and controlling with their workers by having strict supervision, clearly stating and following regulations, firmness on fixed hours of work, a system of fines and dismissals, the elimination of unions (groups) and slacking. New immigrants were chosen over the old immigrants because they thought it would be easier to control them. Women and children that worked in the factories were considered easy to control as well. The workers were treated similar to prisoners. The main industries/factories were in Hamilton, Sault Ste. Marie and Sydney which is where many factory workers settled to live because they were close to work (the factories) and their families lived in those cities as well. Between 1880’s-1920’s, unions were organized, strikes were started as workers tried to illustrate their workplace/factory.
There was not too much conflict but instead there were acts of resistance, non-cooperation and even sabotage as workers tried to gain some control over their workplace. Factory workers lived with their families in crowded, broken down shack/hut, and were often paid in store scrip. Their pay was so low that workers at times were forced to search the countryside for food. In mid- January, wages were cute back even further, which is when workers went on strike but soon collapsed because of arguments within the group/union and lack of organization. By March, the conditions had gotten worse and they went on strike again but eventually were persuaded to give up. They obeyed and returned to work with very little improvement in their conditions.
George Tuckett, a Hamilton cigar manufacturer, reduced working hours, gave regular bonuses and Christmas turkeys along with a free city lot and a cash payment towards a house to workers with twenty one years of service. He argued that he did not do this out of kindness or generosity, but it should be done because it is good management. Factory workers were not treated equally. The managers and owners of these factories were very cruel to their workers and cared little for their safety. It was neither fair nor right to treat anyone the way these factory workers were treated and many strikes were formed. The industry destroyed the 1840’s-1930’s as well as their workers.
Heron, Craig. Working In Steel. Toronto:McClelland and Stewart, 1988. MacDonald, Michael. Horizon Canada Volume 2. Centre for the Study of Teaching Canada Inc., 1987. MacDonald, Michael. Horizon Canada Volume 6. Centre for the Study of Teaching Canada Inc., 1987.
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