abour's pressure in
the workplace and in the political arena forced the
government's hand. In early 1944, the ruling Liberal
government passed an emergency Order-in-Council, P.C.
1003, that protected the workers' right to organize and
required employers to recognize unions chosen by a majority
of workers. This emergency law was extended by two years
after the war's end to ensure labour stability in the
transition to a peacetime economy. This pivotal change
in our labour laws had far-reaching effects on
industrial relations in Canada. It meant that employers
now had to bargain with legally certified organizations
of their employees.
Labour responded quickly to its newly won legal status.
Union locals across the country pressed employers to negotiate
and sign binding contracts. The national labour federations,
the Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL) and the Trades and
Labor Congress (TLC), co-operated in a campaign to convert
the emergency provisions of P.C. 1003 into permanent
legislation at the end of the war. Such co-operation between
the two major labour federations reflected the TLC's own
gradual acceptance of industrial unionism. It also represented
tacit recognition by the CCL and TLC that internal feuding
weakened their political power.
The growing alliance between the CCL and TLC, however, did
not mean that the labour movement was completely united. A
majority of Quebec unionists still remained outside the national
labour bodies. On the political front, unlike after World War I,
the conclusion of World War II was not accompanied by broad
coalition of progressive labour forces. Instead, the divisions
of the inter-war years between the communists, socialists, and
other progressives continued to deepen.