Canadian Labor Laws and the Treaty

By Bryce M. Stewart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
A WAGE SUFFICIENT FOR REASONABLE LIVING

"The payment to the employed of a wage adequate to maintain a reasonable standard of life as this is understood in their time and country." (Treaty of Peace: Article 427,3.)

GOVERNMENT action in Canada for the regulation of wages in the interests of the employed has been in two directions -- (1) legislation and administrative regulation to ensure the payment of a "fair wage" to persons employed on government works, on undertakings receiving subsidies from the public funds, and in the manufacture of government supplies; and (2) minimum wage laws for the protection of women workers.

Provision for fair wages on government contracts is one of the few fields of labor legislation in which the Dominion Government preceded the provincial legislatures. In England in 1884 the Trade Union Parliamentary Committee tried to induce the stationery office to adopt the union rates of the London compositors as a basis for the government printing contract, and when their request was disregarded "fair wages" became one of the campaign cries of the election of 1886. The election of a champion of trade-union wages to the London School Board in 1888 resulted in the adoption of a fair wage policy by the Board in 1889 and the House of Commons, in view of the strength of the agitation and the disclosure before the House of Lords Sweating Committee of the abuses arising from subletting, passed a fair-wage resolution in 1891.

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