Are more strikes on the horizon?

As the calendar turns and labour unrest in Canada continues, the Summer of Strikes is evolving into the Autumn of Arbitration (which is way less catchy, but just as important). 

Driving the news: Per a new RBC report, amidst a surge of high-profile strikes, first-year raises for union workers are up 7.1% as of July — the highest rate since the early 1990s.

  • The number of unworked days due to labour action rose 25% year-over-year as of July, with the highest amount of unworked days in the first half of a year since 2002.

Big picture: The report notes taming inflation is the key to achieving employer-employee harmony. Canadians, unionized or not, feel that they’ve been victims of a historic loss in purchasing power — reigning in the cost of living would certainly result in less labour strife.

Why it matters: These startling wage gains are likely to spur further labour action as more unionized workers fight the cost of living crisis as their collective bargaining deals expire. 

  • Considering Canada’s GDP contracted last quarter, a string of prolonged strikes risks putting the pinch on an already weakening economy. 

Yes, but: If the economy falters and the labour market continues to slow, the wage gains party could abruptly end as companies will be less able and/or willing to meet demands.—QH