What to do if there is a strike at your workplace?

Dear NSGEU members working in provincial school boards,

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) has announced it is holding a strike vote today, February 20th. The NSTU Executive is holding a meeting tomorrow where they will decide what, if any, job action they will be taking.

We stand with the teachers as they try to focus the Premier on improving classroom conditions. McNeil is bringing the same misguided centralization scheme that he brought to health care – to education – and we believe this will hurt student performance and create chaos in our schools. We are also concerned that there are no details about how the changes will affect NSGEU members who work as support staff in six of the provincial school boards. Click here to read our press release in support of the teachers.

The strike vote, if successful, will give the NSTU a mandate to implement a job action if the McNeil Liberals are unprepared to work with teachers.

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? 

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? 

During a legal strike you are normally not allowed to do the work of the striking employees. However, because this is not a legal strike, the Trade Union Act will not apply.

We are asking members not to do the work of teachers but if the Employer insists, you should do the work to avoid discipline and report it to us as soon as possible at: (inquiry@nsgeu.ca or 1-877-556-7438).

Note: if you feel that the safety of the student or yourself is at risk, you may exercise your right to refuse unsafe work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. You can find more information about how to exercise your right to refuse unsafe work here or you can call the NSGEU.

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.


Email: inquiry@nsgeu.ca

Phone: 424-4063 or toll-free in NS: 1-877-556-7438


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