Workers walk out over Orwellian TV monitors
It was known as the rag trade: a vibrant "patchwork" of textile shops in downtown Montreal and Toronto in the 1930s. But as the Depression wore on, clothing manufacturers began to exploit workers in what were already deplorable conditions. Female immigrants sweated in dimly lit factories, working up to 70 hours a week. A large group of textile workers decided to speak out. Their courage helped improve conditions in post-Second World War garment shops, until the introduction of free trade and a recession decades later.
• The number of employees that walked out was 220.
• Puretex president Gary Satok said the cameras were installed to hinder theft. In the 20 years that he was president, Satok noted 10 occasions of theft or suspected theft.
• An arbitrator ruled that the cameras were "anti-human" and ordered them removed by June 29, 1979.
• The ruling came two and a half years after the union first began their complaints about the cameras.
• The Canadian Textile and Chemical Union (CTCU) had filed two grievances with the company about the cameras. These were dropped. The union then worked for two years with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in an attempt to get the cameras removed.
• The arbitrator's decision did not include three storage room cameras, which he said could remain for theft prevention.
• At the time of this CBC News report, Madeleine Parent was treasurer-secretary of the CTCU. She and her husband Kent Rowley formed the union in 1952 in search of autonomy from American textile unions. On Nov. 11, 1946, Parent and Rowley established a Canadian arm of the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA).
• In 1946, the UTWA had 15,000 Canadian members.
• Parent continued her activism as a member of aboriginal and impoverished women's committees, and by becoming a founding member of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. She retired from unionism in 1983.
• For more on the topic of Canadian video camera surveillance, see The Long Lens of the Law.
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 28, 1978
Guest(s): Mirella Depiro, Madeleine Parent
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Frank Hilliard
Last updated: May 6, 2013
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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