A Critical Review of Heron, C. (1980)
The crisis of craftsmen in Hamilton Canada, has been the lens for Craig Heron to portray an insightful account of the labour movement in Canada. His evaluation of the craftsmen has been strong and comprehensive giving detailed account of the historical trends and contemporary issues which are significant aspects of the labour movement . His credentials are valid, and he is one of the fore founders of the “New Labour History”; he is author of many books on labour movement and Canadian workers movement. His diverse and specialized focus has been very succinctly presented in this article Heron, C. (1980) “The crisis of a craftsman: Hamilton’s metal workers in the early twentieth century”. His account of the labour movement in the context of Hamilton metal workers has been the platform which has set the trend for the present day union and solidarity measures which has impacted federal and policymaking endeavors in terms of labor management in the modern age. The role of strikes, the federal and provincial governments impacting the nine hour movement and the strike has been recognized as the longest history are key elements which address the historical trends, contemporary issues which impact the labour laws and focus on the organizing principles. The essay gives comprehensive and historical account of the labour movement in Hamilton, Canada which ahs been instrumental in setting the pace for the current labour force which evolved in mid nineteenth century.
The article encompasses the metal worker in Hamilton , Canada with focus on the labour movement which has wide ranging implementation which predominates the industrial structure of labour force since mid-nineteenth century (Heron, 1980, pp.9). The focus is on Hamilton labour force which encompasses evaluation of 50 metal working firms, which employs labour force of 2634 workers and comprises 38 percent of the city work in the year 1891. This industrial setting has been named as “The Birmingham of Canada” based on its artisan involvement and industrial setting. (Heron, 1980,pp.9). His evaluation of the labour movement and the graphic description provides an insightful backdrop which has propelled the labour movement involving the moulders as well as the machinists. The trades which has been reviewed in the article are the craftsmen who were engaged in mediums like “wood, iron, brass, blacksmithing or any thing from old school”(Heron, 1980,pp.11). The construction and inclusion of machinery as part of the artisanal culture giving dexterity to the manual skill has been the brainchild of the mechanical innovations. The historical references which has been made with regard to the labor movement during 19th century has portrayed a lively history which touches the scenario, craftsmen and the immigrant population with sensitivity and cultured outlook . “A vibrant artisanal culture therefore continued to thrive in late nineteenth-century industry, where skills of these men were indispensable to may sectors of production. The Artisanal culture has much broader dimensions than life in the workshops where the craftsmen toiled”(Heron, 1980,pp.8). The integration of the moulders and the machine as marked in 1890, lasted for roughly 30 years transforming the metal working industry.
The artisanal culture in which the workers flourished saw dramatic technological and innovative changes within the labour force (Heron, 1980,pp.11). The power of the craftsmen was challenged and serious obstacles emerged with the growing labor population who were challenged by the corporate culture. The implications of the working class facing serious obstacles had to deal with the skilled labor force in one Canadian City, Hamilton, Ontario which was admired as the larges group of craftsmen who were turned as metal workers at the turn of the century.The artisanal legacy evolved as a synthesis of artisanal culture and industrialist capitalist that brought the working class together to stand up in union against any dehumanization and authoritarian tendencies which were significant with the emergence of modern industrialization. This intelligent and paralleled change impassioned by integration of the process of transformation in the Canadian life was targeted to transcend the working place culture with excessive pride and traditional privileges which engendered workplace. The essay evaluates with vivid description about “the states two largest metal-working crafts at the end of the nineteenth century, the moulders and machinists, to a discussion of efforts of employers to transform their factories into more efficient, centrally managed workplaces, and finally to an assessment of the response of the craftsmen to these new conditions.”(Heron, 1980,pp.8).The pre-industrial society has been dominated by prominent craftsmen in the city, the moulders who trace their source to traditional biblical references; which was followed by the specialized artisan in the form of skilled metal castings which emerged as ornamental iron and brass work or variety of stoves and machinery castings. One saw integration of Canadian workforce into national and international markets, dominated by corporate enterprises.(Heron, 1980, pp.15)
There has been evidence of “the strikes in Hamilton’s metalworking plants over the three decades from 1890’s to 1920’s”(Heron, 1980,pp.15) which ahs been marked by a model which emphasizes on the revival of the union movement and the counterattack from the employers.(Heron, 1980,pp.15). There is an account which confirms that “energies were directed to weaken the trade union by company sponsored welfare programmes”(Heron, 1980,pp.16). It was aimed to cultivate loyalty which ensured reliance and assurance. There is evidence of American penetration within the territory which increased the competition. There was also evidence which suggested constant battle between the corporations for securing workers loyalty. The “pattern of anti-unionism flourished” (Heron, 1980, pp.16).
The force of Taylorism, which was initiated as a “systematic management” reached its full blossom as introduced by Frederick W. Taylor in his theories of “scientific management”(Heron, 1980,pp.20). It led to introduction of complex principles which encouraged centralization and defined production process which encouraged “ planning, routing, scheduling and standardization”(Heron, 1980,pp.20).
Summary : The article addresses the functionality of the two largest metal-working crafts in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at the end of 19th century. The comparative evaluation of the workforce under moulders and specifically under the machinists employers has bee critically evaluated to address the issue of employers challenging the autonomous functionality of the craftsmen. The challenge faced by the employers in managing the craftsmen to transform the workplace culture which is centrally managed by employers and address the craft crisis situation with focus on the factories output and functionality. The analytical stance of the paper, is aimed at the artisanal legacy, which targets the moulders and the machinists, with emphasis on the working class ambivalence. The critique touches the two spectrum, the dehumanizing tendencies of the modern industrialized economy as well as the autonomous status of the work force, with an exclusive strategy which is aimed to defend the craft interest. The changes which took place during 19th and 20th century mark the transformation in work process which evolved the rising capitalistic and monopolistic trends in Canada leading to fragmentation of the working class. (Heron, 1980,pp.8).
There were profound changes which marked the organizational setup and set major trends for the industrial setup in Canada. The involvement of machinery in the metal working culture led to “new innovations and improvements”(Heron, 1980,pp.33) which created a new set of work force. This mobilized the labour movement with emergence of the “machinist union”(Heron, 1980,pp.33). The trend of the labour movement also indicated “the involvement of predominantly Anglo-Saxon skilled workers and European immigrants”(Heron,1980, pp.43)
The article is convincing and is supported by wide ranging examples which specifically target the craft and artisan population in Hamilton, Canada. The focus on the local union has been discussed with supportive literature, which addresses the issue of mechanization and craft protection very succinctly. The thesis is well developed and supported throughout the paper with endnotes and citations which make it very authentic in presentation. His major claims are well supported, and capital and labour movement has been well integrated within the framework of Canadian setup. Heron (1980) is a master analyst and reviewer who has done full justice to the issue of mechanization and the development of labour union, it seems to have envisioned the developmental role of the globalization, outsourcing and NAFTA(North American free Trade Agreement). The implications made by Heron(1980) are rooted in today’s labour market and the trend is very much evident in the globalization, where the jobs are now being outsourced to the undeveloped county with no unionization or regulations and the corporations are economically driven as the labour is cheap and the profit gains are immeasurable. The indispensable skill of the craftsmen is acknowledged, which ascertains the functional autonomy curbing employer interference.
The Canadian workforce or labour force in 1890 has been the setting for this critical review which addresses the industrial life which merged with the nation and international markets leading to increasing intervention of the large corporate enterprises. The fixed profit margins and corporate culture attacked the sensitive and intuitive workforce in Hamilton, impacting their productivity. This led to the union movement and networking operations which helped the resurgence of the labor force and restructuring of the work process, putting a check to the interference of the employers. The account of the change which took place in Hamilton Canada is very well documented, but eh weakness lies in the fact that the networking of the craftsmen and the counterattack of the employers is not accounted for in an in-depth manner. Still the paper makes the case for deep rooted implications of mechanization in setting the trend for the present globalization and outsourcing phenomenon. (Heron, 1980,pp.15)
Critique: The article integrates wide ranging informative sources to substantiate the setting in Hamilton, Canada as the basis of its implementation focus. This is limited in its implementation strategy as it would be implied more to western country scenario. The regulation output and the established union are necessary for successful workforce which can ascertain humane pace of work.
The Canadian workforce or labour force in 1890 has been the setting for this critical review which addresses the industrial life which merged with the nation and international markets leading to increasing intervention of the large corporate enterprises. The fixed profit margins and corporate culture attacked the sensitive and intuitive workforce in Hamilton, impacting their productivity. This led to the union movement and networking operations which helped the resurgence of the labor force and restructuring of the work process, putting a check tot eh interference of the employers. The account of the change which took place in Hamilton Canada is very well documented, but eh weakness lies in the fact that the networking of the craftsmen and the counterattack of the employers is not accounted for in an in-depth manner. Still the paper makes the case for deep rooted implications of mechanization in setting the trend for the present globalization and outsourcing phenomenon.
The paper is clearly an evaluation of the labour movement and the artisanal culture in Canadian setting. The core implication is comprehensive study of the labour movement, the union, the strikes and the emergence of corporate culture in the Canadian setup. The paper is a little fragmented in the sense that there are evident gaps in the analysis and integration of the periods from 1890-1930. The focus is primarily on 1890-1920 and these thirty years have been the foundation for the critical analysis, which has comprehensively integrated documentation of facts and there is from various interconnected sources. The evidence supports the argument and the stand taken by the writer, who has mastery on his subject. His arguments are valid and well researched. His presentation is systematic and literary in presentation.
Conclusion : The comprehensive evaluation of the article has strongly contributed to my critical understanding of the issue related of the labour movement. Heron (1980) Has made implications that are rooted in today’s labour market. The trend is evident in growing globalization and outsourcing phenomena. The present day large corporations are motivated by economic outcomes, which can bee seen in high profit margins and low labour costs, the present trend towards globalization and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), where the jobs are now being outsourced to the undeveloped county with no unionization or regulations and the corporations are economically driven as the labour is cheap and the profit gains are immeasurable. One can see the decline of artisanal culture which was the phenomena of the 19th century Hamilton, Canada.
We still need the development of the “commanding role for the artisans in determining the rhythms of the total production process” (Heron, 1980,pp.47). The intense craft pride and their functional autonomy led to the craft supremacy; and the craft unions laid the foundation for more structured and exclusive strategy for defensive practise of the indispensable artisan skill. The integration of the labour movement and the artisanal culture has been the key points which have been backed up by the historical contexts impacting the future trends of the labour movement in Canada, impacting the government and corporate involvement and securing the formation of unions an d forceful strikes within the framework of the transformation in mid nineteenth century.
The paper critically targets the issue of the working class in Canadian setting, organized labour movement and provided a historical backdrop which has phenomenally contributed to the development of the Canadian society. The role of immigrant population and integration of workers into the social, community and working environment has been the unifying theme behind the critical review. It is supported by the Canadian historical movement.