Jan. 17, 2024
By Angelo DiCaro, director, Research Department:
The past 12 months represented a positive step forward for working people in Canada. It was a period marked by low unemployment and high inflation (the conditions that typically create bargaining leverage for workers). It was also a period, on the heels of the COVID pandemic, when workers realized how integral their labour is to the health and success of the economy – and how, for years, that economy hasn’t delivered for them.
In 2023, Canada witnessed more frequent, and lengthier, labour disputes than at any point during the pandemic. The country also saw an increase in union membership along with record-setting wage and benefit improvements, including pension gains, across many sectors of the economy. Lana Payne, Unifor’s National President, in what became her trademark refrain, told the world that workers “are having a moment”. A moment, indeed. With all of this progress some have fittingly dubbed 2023 the Year of the Worker.
It’s hard to predict what 2024 has in store. Some doomsayers suggest wages have risen too high, risking higher inflation (this despite the clear disconnect between wages and price inflation in recent years). Others think workers have turned a corner, with more gains to be won especially as executive pay continues to soar, and corporations enjoy big profits. By all accounts, and barring a severe recession, 2024 should be another year of positive gains and growth for working people.
Here’s a look at 5 key trends that many trade unionists will be tracking over the new year.