Canadian Labor Laws and the Treaty

By Bryce M. Stewart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
LABOR NOT A COMMODITY

The guiding principle above enunciated that labor should not be regarded merely as a commodity or article of commerce. (Treaty of Peace: Article 427, 1.)

CANADIAN legislation has no such declaration as that in the Clayton Anti-Trust Act of the United States that "the labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce." But the Trade Unions Act of Canada, passed in 1872, provided that

the purposes of a trade union shall not, by reason merely that they are in restraint of trade, be deemed to be unlawful so as to render any member of such trade union liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise, or so as to render void or voidable any agreement or trust.

The act provided however that this protection should apply only to trade unions registered under its provisions and very few unions have registered. This limited protection was shattered in 1889, when it was stated in the anticombines law (c. 41) of that year that it should be construed as if this clause of the Trade Unions Act had not been enacted.

The Trades and Labor Congress of 1889, "recognizing the great injury done organized labor," instructed its legislative committee "to lose no time in securing, if possible, such legislation as will give organized labor at least a legal status, of which it has been deprived."1 The executive committee

____________________
1
Trades and Labor Congress, 1889, p. 24.

-113-

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