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September 10, 2021

Canadians strike more than any other country: study

For Canadians, this recession (and post-recession) has brought on a bizarre labour conundrum.1197558_strike_1

We need to work – badly, we need to work – though it seems we’re still not ready to break our wills when we perceive management is taking advantage of the workforce.

So, what’s a Canadian worker to do? Well, at a time when jobs surely don’t hurt, we strike. We strike more than the whole freaking world.

Yes, according to recent figures from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Canadians lost more work days to strike last year than any other country on earth.

By the OECD’s numbers, the average Canadian employee wasn’t working 2.2 days in 2009 because of job walk-offs, much higher than the second place finisher, South Africa, at 1.5 days lost, and France, whose workers missed 1.4 days on average last year.

Spain and Britain, whose 10,000 subway employees were recently mired in a ugly strike in response to management’s decision to cut 800 jobs, rounded out the top 5.

Now, these figures – depending on which way you look at them – are either harrowing or encouraging.

Chances are, you didn’t strike last year (I know I didn’t) so this high figure is likely to blame on a few high-profile, large-scale disputes – like the year-long Vale strike of 3,100 steelworkers in Sudbury.

So if that’s the case, then, perhaps these figures speak to the Canadian labour force as a bigger picture.

There are two camps here, as I see it:

1) Canadians, some of the most noble in the world, see now as no better time to stand up to management. After all, executive salaries have never been higher, and in order for them to continue to skyrocket, Jack and Jill Worker are being forced out of jobs. This isn’t right, and we can’t stand for it, even in this economic climate.


2) Man, are we babies? Unions are tearing this country’s job prospects apart. Working conditions in Canada are already better than anywhere else in the world, but our constant bickering is only going to lead to more businesses outsourcing to India, China or wherever, where labour is cheap and comes without headaches. We should be lucky just to have jobs at a time like this.

Two gross, broad stereotypes, sure, but it seems most arguments regarding labour disputes fall into one of those two categories.

Which way do you see it?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...