Friday, 28 December 2007


The bitter ten month strike was lost, but it’s memory survived. The determination to have a strong militant union of their own choice grew stronger during the war years. By the end of 1916 more than half the mine-workers again belonged to the United Mine Workers.

The success of the union in recruiting members scared Domco. The war years were high profit years and they didn’t want to see any disruption of their booming production schedule. During 19l6 Domco came across with two unexpected pay raises. The scheme was to show the workers that with such kind employers there was no need to have a union. The effect was the opposite. The workers learned that when they united together to back up their demands, the company was forced to give in.

The company tried out some of its old tricks. But harassment by the company police and the firing of active trade unionists didn’t work this time. Instead, mass walkouts began at the mines.

All, this upheaval worried the government. It could prove dangerous to the wartime economy if the coalfields became idle. The government stepped in and called for more wage increases for the miners and told the PWA and the new union to amalgamate. ‘Since the PWA was practically extinct by now, what this really meant was recognition of the miners’ own union.

The Amalgamated Mineworkers of Nova Scotia was formed in June 1917. Two years later the union entered the United Mine Workers of America as District 26. Why did they join this international union? Since corporations like Domco are based on international alliances between capitalists and financiers, the workers too would have to unite to fight them.

But getting a union was just the first step. Now the miners would have to learn how to keep it under their control and how to use it in their struggle.

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