Betrayed: The Story of the Canadian Merchant Seamen's Union
SubjectsActivism Canadian History Labour Economics Politics Union
- Release Date 2005
- Running Time 56 minutes
- Closed Captions No
- Availability Canada, USA, World
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Although Canada is surrounded by three oceans, there is not a single deep-sea ship flying the Canadian flag today. In the 1940's, Canada had the fourth largest merchant fleet in the world. Canadian ships brought vital supplies to Allied forces in Europe during World War II. The men sailing those ships were war heroes who suffered the highest rate of losses in the line of duty.
Their union, The Canadian Seamen's Union (CSU), brought the eight-hour work day, sick leave and pay increases to an industry known for low wages and brutal working conditions. After the war, when the Liberal government of Louis St. Laurent began to privatize the merchant fleet, the CSU strongly opposed the sell-off. The Canadian government and ship owners initiated a campaign to discredit the CSU. McCarthyism was at its peak, and this was a time of fear, confusion and betrayal.
Betrayed tells the story of the little-known struggle of merchant seamen to save the merchant fleet and their livelihood. It traces the history of Canadian shipping from the international strike of 1949 to the globalization of coastal shipping in Australia by Canada Steamship Lines, a company owned by the family of former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.
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