Dear NSGEU members working in provincial school boards,
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) has announced it is holding a one day strike on Friday, February 17. They are taking a stand against Bill 75 that was tabled in the legislature by the McNeil government last evening. This Bill limits teachers’ right to strike, erodes their ability to negotiate a fair contract and prevents them from advocating for reforms to improve learning conditions for their students.
This legislation has wide-ranging implications for all public sector workers in Nova Scotia, not just teachers, and we are encouraging all NSGEU members to stand up against McNeil’s attack on your collective bargaining rights. The NSGEU stands with them in solidarity.
We have reached out to School Boards and Stock Transportation for more clarity on their plans in the event of a strike and are awaiting responses.
We have developed a Q & A about what to do if there is a strike at your workplace:
It is important to understand that the NSGEU is supportive of our brothers and sisters, co-workers, and friends who belong to other labour unions. Along with many of the unions in Nova Scotia, we often work together in coalitions and committees.
Do I have to go to work if NSTU members go on strike?
Yes. NSGEU members are not on legal strike therefore members are required to go to work unless otherwise directed by the employer.
How can I show my support?
We are asking all members who work alongside teachers to refuse to do additional work if it is above and beyond your normal hours of work and scope of duties.
Where there are picket lines, we suggest that you “walk the line before you cross the line”. NSGEU members are encouraged to support co-workers who are on strike. You can be supportive by picketing with them on your own time (such as breaks, lunch or before/after work). You can bring them coffee and/or refreshments. You can also beep your car horn and wave to show encouragement. Picketers greatly appreciate these signs of support.
What do I do if I’m asked to do the work of an NSTU member?
The Trade Union Act protects you from any disciplinary consequences if you refuse to do the work of another employee who is on strike. The work of someone who is on strike is called “struck work”.
“No Employer and no person acting on behalf of an Employer shall: suspend, discharge or impose any financial or other penalty on an employee or take any other disciplinary action against an employee, by reason of his refusal to perform all or some of the duties and responsibilities of another employee who is participating in a strike that is not prohibited by this Act” Section 53 (3)c of the Trade Union Act.
You have the right to refuse additional supervision hours, because these duties are not part of your collective agreement. If your employer continues to pressure you to do “struck work,” please have them put their request in writing and contact the NSGEU immediately (firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-556-7438).
Do I have to cross the picket line?
You are required to do your work, so you will have to cross a picket line if there is one at your workplace. We suggest you introduce yourself to a picket captain before proceeding to work and if you have time it is always good to “walk the line, before you cross the line.” This shows your respect and support for your co-workers.
What if I am uncomfortable or I believe there is a threat if I cross the picket line?
If you feel uncomfortable, ask to speak to the picket captain and explain who you are and that you need to go into your workplace. You can also call your manager or a person who may be assigned to assist employees in crossing the picket line.
If you believe the picket line is a legitimate threat to your physical well-being, you should leave the area and call your manager or the person assigned by your employer. Advise them of the situation and ask for instructions. You are also encouraged to advise the NSGEU so we can inform the striking union of the situation.
If your employer insists you cross the picket line and you still feel there is a legitimate threat to your physical well-being, contact the NSGEU for further information. If your safety is being jeopardized, you have the right to refuse under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
What if I have a question that is not on this list, or I need further information?
You can call the NSGEU if you need assistance between 8:30am and 5:30pm Mon-Fri.
Phone: 424-4063 or toll-free in NS: 1-877-556-7438