UPDATED APRIL 14, 2021 – Locals 77 & 92-77: Questions & Answers about Strike
If the Conciliation Officer files his report; does this mean we are going on strike?
Once the Conciliation Officer has filed his report, a 14-day countdown is triggered, after which a legal strike can be held. This 14-day period is also a “cooling off period” for both sides. A strike is always the last resort. Often the Conciliation Officer will call both sides back to the table during these 14 days in a continued effort to reach an agreement. Every effort is made by the Union to reach a tentative agreement before asking its members to take legal strike action.
The union must also give the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education a 48-hour notice of its intention to exercise its right to strike. After the 14 days have passed, which can include the 48-hour notice to strike, the union can exercise its right to strike anytime for up to six months.
The NSGEU filed the 48-hour strike notice on April 12, 2021.
What is a strike?
The legal definition of a strike is: A cessation of work or a refusal to work or a refusal to continue to work by employees in combination or in concert or in accordance with a common understanding for the purpose of compelling the employer to agree to terms and conditions of employment.
A strike always includes more than one person stopping work, and a common motive to pressure employer to improve their terms of employment. A strike is different from a person quitting in protest, refusing unsafe work, or demonstrating.
Do I have to go on strike?
If your bargaining unit votes in favor of a strike and the union calls you to strike, all members of the bargaining unit are expected to take part in the withdrawal of labour from the employer. An effective strike requires hard work and solidarity.
What will I be paid while on strike?
The union pays strike pay to those that perform strike duties as assigned by their Strike Committee. This will usually consist of picket duty, although other duties may be assigned, and could include, for example, helping to organize rallies and demonstrations or lobbying. To earn strike pay you must perform a minimum of 20 hours of strike duty per week. Strike pay is currently $200.00 per member and $25.00 for each dependent, per week. (A dependent is defined as an individual who is up to 4 years post graduate of high school and maintains residence with a custodial parent or guardian or an individual who is disabled and maintains residence with a custodial parent or guardian). Strike pay will not be paid if a striker is in receipt of earned benefits – ie: EI, LTD, WCB, etc.
Strike pay is earned daily and paid only if the strike lasts more than one day. For a strike that lasts more than one day, strike pay is retroactive to the first-day strike duties are performed.
**NOTE: your Local has authorized an additional $300 per week to come from their strike fund for a minimum of 4 weeks. This is in addition to the $200 per week (plus $25 per dependent) amount that is provided by the NSGEU.
What are my duties when on strike?
Members who perform a minimum of 20 (twenty) or more hours of strike duties per week are eligible for strike pay. Strike duties may include, but are not limited to:
- lobbying politicians, directors of employer organizations, and the employer’s allies;
- outreach to service users and groups that represent them;
- outreach to labour, community, and other potential allies;
- mass rallies and demonstrations;
- media relations work and advertising; and
- any other activities that help end the strike with the desired result.
What if I am unable to perform picket duty?
Some members may not be able to perform all strike duties. In such cases, the Strike committee has a legal and moral obligation to modify the member’s strike duties so they can be paid strike pay. This is called an accommodation. Members may apply for accommodation to the Strike Committee (we will advise you of the names and contact information of the committee as soon as it is available).
What happens to my benefits while I am on strike?
The union’s policy is to pay 100% of your benefit premiums during a strike so there will be no interruption in your benefits. The union will approach your employer seeking an agreement that the employer will bill the union for your benefit premiums. The NSGEU does not have a policy to cover your pension contributions during a strike.
How will a strike affect those in receipt of Tuition Waiver?
In the event of a short strike, the employer will prorate the tuition waiver for the current term. In the event of a long strike, there will be no tuition benefit for employees and dependents.
What if I am on pregnancy/parental leave?
You will receive your EI pregnancy/parental leave benefits, provided you meet the criteria for EI, however, the employer has informed the NSGEU that in the event of a strike top-ups will be stopped.
What if I am on Long-Term Disability?
You will receive your LTD benefits during a strike. However, you will not be paid strike pay or expected to do picket duty – though if you are able, you should attend to encourage your striking colleagues. Solidarity wins strikes!
If a strike occurs, will the employer cut off sick leave benefits for those currently in receipt of them?
Members on sick leave, compassionate care will continue to receive full pay.
How will I know what is going on?
The union will use your contact information to make sure you are kept up to date. Please call or email the NSGEU (902-424-4063, firstname.lastname@example.org) to ensure we have your up-to-date contact information including your personal email address and home/cell phone number.
If I am due to go on vacation when the strike is called, can I go on vacation?
You will not be paid to go on vacation by your employer. Your pay ceases in the event of a strike. If you are vacationing locally, the NSGEU would expect you to complete your picket duties in order to qualify for strike pay.
What happens to parking permits for those who have those payments automatically deducted from their pay?
Permits will be valid and the employee is responsible for missed payments.
Can I work another job while on strike?
You can work in another job that is outside your bargaining unit. However, you will be expected to complete your hours of picket duty as required to receive your strike pay.
What should I do personally to get ready for a strike?
It is wise to do your best to stabilize your financial situation by talking to your mortgage holders and credit cardholders. Let them know you may be heading into a strike. Most institutions have policies to assist their clients during times of financial hardship. Doing this sooner rather than later can take a load off of your mind and make life during a strike run smoother.
I am being asked by other people how to do my job in case I go on strike. What should I do?
Unless it is your manager or supervisor asking you how to do your job, you are not obligated to tell others how you do your work. For example, if another employee asks you how to do your job, politely decline and refer them to your manager. If your manager or supervisor directs you to train or give out information about your work, you are obligated to do so.
What happens if a member works against the Union during a Strike?
The answer can be found in Article 13 of the NSGEU Constitution.
What should you do about employer communications as they relate to the union and the strike vote or a potential strike?
According to the Trade Union Act, the employer is not allowed to intimidate or coerce a person to refrain from becoming or to cease to be a member of a trade union. This would extend to participating in a legal strike and all other legal activities of the union.
The employer is free to express themselves so long as they do not use coercion, intimidation, threats or undue influence.
If you have any questions please contact your Bargaining Committee:
Local 77 Pauline Fraser, email@example.com
Local 77 John Kyle, firstname.lastname@example.org
Local 77 Cherilyn MacIntosh, email@example.com
Local 77 Tammy Zinck, firstname.lastname@example.org
Local 92-77 Cheryl Paris, email@example.com
Chief Negotiator Darryl Warren, firstname.lastname@example.org
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