Monday, August 17, 2015
When I left off Monday, the year was 1917 and Vancouver was experiencing an economic boom. It was also starting to experience a little labour unrest. Nothing too drastic, most were easily settled strikes, which weren't affecting the city too much. But on June 13, B.C. Electric - public transit - walked off the job. There had been no wage increase in two years.
Trackmen were paid 29 cents an hour and many of the employees made less than $60 a month. The union wanted five cents an hour increase in the lower categories and five percent in the higher, to bring top wages to $84 a month.
The company said they couldn't afford it, the jitney competition had hit it so hard B.C. Electric was losing money on the transit system. The strike lasted eight days and the people of Vancouver rode jitneys or walked to get around, they were siding with the striking workers. The company finally gave in when the city promised to investigate the jitney situation.
The company refused to budge, conciliation under Mr. Justice Macdonald failed and the workers refused to accept an arbitration award in favour of the company. The provincial government waded into the fray, bringing pressure against jitney competition, on the strength of Shortt findings.
The strike was settled on July 11 with the men receiving a pay increase, the city granting a one-cent fare increase and abolishing jitney licenses.
I hope you find the beauty around you.