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A survey of labour relations in the metal-mining industry of British Columbia McKay, Dean Reginald

Abstract

The scope of this work has been limited to a discussion of employer-employee relationships in the field of metal mining and does not include consideration of labour problems in connection with the production of coal, non-metallic ores, or structural materials. The Introductory part deals with the early history of gold, mining and the subsequent discovery and development of the base-metal resources of the province. In this connection, a study is made of the geographical distribution and extent of these natural resources. A series of charts indicate* the locations of the major producing areas within British Columbia. The expansion of the industry through the years is now considered and developments are traced leading to the present scale of operations. Comparative graphs are presented indicating production scales, average price movements and employment statistics with regard to each of the major metals produced in the province. Attention is now directed to the development of trade unionism in the industry. This deals with the early history of the Western Federation of Miners and the later growth of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, which now represents organized labour in the metal mines. The role of government in labour relations is shown to be an important factor. A study is made of the effects of such legislative enactments, as, the Industrial Disputes investigation Act, the Wartime. Labour Relations Regulations Act (P.O.1003), and the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act of British Columbia. Under the provisions of the last-mentioned act, which provides definite procedures for collective bargaining, some eighteen agreements are now in effect. Two of these actual agreements between the union and major producers have been made the subject for special study in the presentation of this phase of the subject. The strike record of the industry is now dealt with and the account of events leading up to the strike of 1946 among the gold producers is presented as being illustrative of the procedures followed. The present impasse of 1948 involving the same producers is shown to be an aftermath of the 1946 dispute. The discussion is concluded with an appraisal of present working conditions obtaining in the industry and current trends and indications are considered which would appear to have a bearing on future employer-employee relationships and the general welfare of the labour force, in the metal-mining industry.

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