The Toronto Star recently asked “Will 2022 be the year of the strike? Many workers will walk out if inflation pay increases are not granted, experts say”. According to Statistics Canada so far in 2022, 1,775,797 days have been lost to strike action. An increase of 452,170 days since 2021, when 1,323,627 days were lost to strike action. And the year is not even over.

According to the aforementioned article, over 30,000 Ontario workers struck over higher wages in May. “We are seeing major strikes in places we haven’t seen in recent years,” according to Patty Coates, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. In 2022 thus far many Unifor bargaining units have made great gains through strike action, with some workers getting between 20 and 24 per cent in wage gains across a four-year contract. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 700,000 public sector workers across Canada is also heading for a year of strikes, according to one spokesperson, with half the union’s bargaining units facing agreements that have, or will, expire in 2022.

The Public Services Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is being pushed in the same direction as the Federal Government offered its 120,000 federal public service worker members an insulting pay increase of 1.75 per cent per year over a four year collective agreement. With inflation more than four-times that figure, what this represents is an open and conscious wage cut. In Ontario both teachers and nurses (organized respectively by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and the Ontario Nurses’ Association) are facing Bill 124, which capped salary increases at one per cent per year for one million workers across the province over three years. Nurses also face restrictions on their right to strike which means that pressure continues to build amongst rank-and-file nurses with no outlet—or at least, none yet.

In B.C. the British Columbia General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) had 1,000 workers in the liquor and cannabis sector on strike for several weeks before they called a pause to job action. In Québec 22 stores of the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC), organized by CUPE 5454, have been on strike demanding better wages as well.


The Bank of Canada considers inflation a temporary problem and one to be solved on our backs. This was demonstrated quite clearly when the governor of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, instructed bosses to reject cost-of-living adjustments on the basis that inflation, supposedly, will not last. This effectively means that workers are to be asked to bear that cost for the foreseeable future. We have already seen our real wages stagnate or drop for decades. Since the pandemic we’ve seen average earnings increases drop to five per cent below inflation, which in reality means a five per cent wage cut. The rich want to claw back our wages by default without lifting a finger through these price increases. This is why they insist that nothing be done to increase wages or else the gains they made through inflation would be diminished.

As inflation hit 8.1 per cent at its worst point, the pressure on workers’ wages should not be understated. Neither should the sacrifice they are being asked to give. But again, workers have already been sacrificing for decades now. Particularly since the crash of 2008, unions have taken no-strike agreements, below-inflation wage increases, two-tier wage agreements, layoffs, cuts to pensions and other benefits, and an intensification of work for those remaining on the job, among other sacrifices—not to mention the indignity of back-to-work legislation curbing our democratic right to strike.

At what point do we say enough is enough? At what point is it time to bail out the workers? The billions of dollars printed to save the profits of failing private sector companies—in 2008 and again during the pandemic—are now to be paid for by further sacrifices from the workers? Are we supposed to believe that this orgy of free money has had zero effect on this sudden onset of inflation, while these so-far inadequate wage increases are the root of all inflation?

Workers are told that if they ask for wage increases which surpass inflation, in other words which are actual wage increases, it would lock us in a vicious cycle of inflation. Yet billions continue to be poured into the pockets of the capitalist class with no concerns raised by the Bank of Canada, because they know whose side they are on.

Workers instinctively understand this. They know there is money to be had and the numbers show it with the record profits being posted by Bay Street. All that remains is to organize and fight. Workers from coast to coast are showing the way forward by exercising their right to strike. Only through class struggle can we win cost-of-living adjustments to survive this inflation and put food on our tables as prices continue to skyrocket. We need union leaders who are willing to fight for real increases, who are willing to resist back to work legislation, and do what is necessary to win gains for their members. The old corporate unionism, which has never really worked for working people, most certainly never will today. The bosses are not interested in cooperation. They want to squeeze us dry, but the workers know how to squeeze them right back—right in their money sacks.

If you have no union, don’t mourn, organize!

Even industries not yet unionized are beginning to rise up and organize for better conditions. The old myths about who was a “real” worker are also being exploded before our very eyes. We are all working class: from Starbucks to Amazon, from posties to public sector marijuana dispensary workers, from teachers to nurses to construction workers—we who sell our labour power and toil under this irrational system are all one class.

In the wave of unionizations in industries previously dismissed as “unorganizable”—game and animation workers, or south of the border at places like Google, Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, etc.—we have seen that a new wave of class struggle is arriving. This class is diverse but is facing the same deterioration of living standards due to inflation. If we are to survive we must stand together.

When workers stop, nothing moves!

This inflationary crisis is a crisis of the capitalist system. Whatever gains we make must be made in the perspective of ridding ourselves of the very system that caused this crisis. Anything we gain now will always be at risk of being clawed away. But if we fight we can defend what we have, and from there go on the offensive to take what is rightfully ours.

The capitalists insist that their system cannot afford cost-of-living adjustment agreements for every union worker and more, every worker. It cannot stand such a concession, it cannot provide it. But if this system cannot guarantee us wages indexed to inflation, if it promises us a future of endless pay cuts by the inflationary dilution of our pay cheques, then let it fall! Either the ruling class gives us the livable wages we demand, protected against inflation, or else what right do they have to rule? If their system cannot provide for society, then we will be forced to tear it down like every failed system before it! This is not a theoretical debate over what the acceptable “rules” of capitalism are. This is a question of our fight for bread weighed against their greed. Their rules can never feed us.

It is time to remind the bosses who really makes society turn. They will only overcome their reluctance to grant us livable wage increases if it is outweighed by their reluctance to lose their control over the economy and their rule over us. If capitalism cannot grant us livable wage increases, then capitalism must fall. And when they are convinced that we are willing to go all the way to that end in our fight for better conditions, then suddenly they’ll find cost of living adjustments a very reasonable and achievable demand, and miraculously within their budgets!

We must have livable, above-inflation wage increases regardless of what their profits demand and we will use every means necessary to achieve them, beginning with unionizations, strikes, and sit-down strikes. And, if they insist, ending in the overthrow of capitalism itself.