Trades and Labour Congress of Canada

Trades And Labour Congress Of Canada

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Trades and Labour Congress of Canada

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The Trades and Labor Congress of Canada was a Canada-wide central federation of trade unions from 1883 to 1956. It was founded at the initiative of the Toronto Trades and Labour Council and the Knights of Labor. It was the third attempt at a national labour federation to be formed in Canada: it succeeded the Canadian Labour Union which existed from 1873 to 1877 and the Canadian Labour Congress which held only one conference in 1881.

The first meeting was called by the Toronto Trades Council and the Knights of Labor. It attracted mainly Toronto unionists with no one attending from outside of Ontario. It adopted policies which denounced government supported immigration, the Salvation Army for its alleged efforts to bring London’s poor to Canada; it opposed any Asian immigration, called for female factory inspectors to protect women workers, a single tax system, government only issued currency (Banks issued money at this time), the end of child labour, and the use of convict labour.


The TLC developed a ‘Platform of Principles’ comprising 16 points. Added to its first adopted policies were:
  • free compulsory education,
  • an eight-hour work day and a six-day work week,
  • government inspection of industry,
  • minimum living wage,
  • public ownership of railways, telegraphs, waterworks, lighting,
  • abolition of the Senate,
  • use of union label,
  • abolition of property qualifications to vote,
  • ......
  • ...

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