The Flin Flon Strike

The Western Socialist
July 1934

Thirteen hundred miners in the little town of Flin Flon, in northern Manitoba, have been on strike since June 9th, and have conducted their activities in a manner and with a determination admirable to all those who understand their problems and have been watching their progress.

As id frequently the case in such occurrences, the company officials have succeeded in using the principal outside sources of information to broadcast, among other things, the supremely silly nonsense that the strike has been caused by the machinations of “Communist agitators”.

That Communists are engaged in the strike there can be no reason to doubt. All the political parties in the country can claim supporters from the ranks of the working class, and but little investigation would be required to show that the number of Conservatives and Liberals on strike at Flin Flon to be far in excess of the number of Communists. Yet, surely one would hesitate to place the blame or credit for such an event on the courtly shoulders of His Majesty’s government or its loyal opposition.

Our correspondent at Flin Flon has provided us with an abundance of material concerning the affair, but this has merely confirmed and added the details to what we had already known. The Flin Flon strike did not originate in Moscow; it was bred in the conditions under which the workers have been compelled to work. Had those conditions not existed, agitators, whether from Moscow or the House of Commons at Ottawa, would have exercised little or no influence in their decisions.

The Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting Company has been carrying on operations at Flin Flon since 1930. Throughout this period a close check has been kept on the activities of the workers. They have at no time been permitted to form themselves into any kind of organization on the job, being placed, as a result at the mercy of individuals whose only concern is the making of profits.

Mining is a precarious occupation under the most ideal of conditions, but where no effective protest is permitted to exist, even the elements of care can be neglected with positively dangerous consequences. Such a condition has existed at Flin Flon.

In addition the company saw fit July, 1932, to reduce the workers’ wages 18 per cent in the case of single men and 15 per cent in the case of married men, less one per cent for each child. This brought home to them the need for organization, and not being permitted to organize openly they did so secretly.

The strength of their union was felt some weeks ago when a number of their members were fired, at which time they presented their demands, finally calling a strike.

That they have formed themselves into a “disrespectable” union is by no means the reason why their employers refuse to meet their representatives. The latter have placed a ban on all forms of labor unionism, and are intent only in maintaining complete dominance over the lives and working conditions of their employees.

It is the same old story, enacted and re-enacted, time and again, in the lives of the workers throughout the world. No matter how much they produce, they are doomed to an incessant struggle, so long as Capitalism exists, for just enough to live on.

The position of the S. P. of C. in this as in every strike is clear. These workers are members of our class, their problems are ours, their losses and gains are ours. Our future is inseparable from theirs, and in wishing them every success in their efforts to better their conditions of life, we trust that through the sharpening conflict of the days to come they will rapidly gain a firm grasp of the final and permanent solution to the whole of their troubles – in the abolition of the wages system.