The following are some questions and answers NSGEU members may have if co-workers who belong to another union go on strike.
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 are affiliated with the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and often work together in coalitions and committees.
How can I show support to co-workers who are on strike?
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 a striking co-worker?
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
If you are asked to do the work of striking employees, please contact the NSGEU Labour Resource Centre.
Do I have to go to work if my co-workers go on strike?
Yes. NSGEU members are not on legal strike therefore members are required to go to work.
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 “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 Labour Resource Centre 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 Labour Resource Centre 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 NSGEU if you need assistance between 8:30am and 5:30pm Mon-Fri.
NSGEU Labour Resource Centre:
Phone: 424-4063 or toll-free in NS: 1-877-556-7438