Strikes - Chapter 9

Ensures an effective employer response to strikes in the federal public service.
Date modified: 1995-05-01

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bargaining agent (agent négociateur)
an employee organization that is certified by the PSSRB as the bargaining agent for the employees in a bargaining unit and is empowered to enter into a collective agreement with the employer.
bargaining unit (unité de négociation)
a group of employees that the PSSRB has determined to constitute a unit of employees appropriate for collective bargaining.
collective agreement (convention collective)
an agreement in writing, entered into under the PSSRA, between the employer and a bargaining agent, containing provisions respecting terms and conditions of employment and related matters.
designated position (poste désigné)
a position that is designated pursuant to section 78.1, 78.2 or 78.4 of the PSSRA and the designation of which has not been changed pursuant to section 78.4. Employees who occupy designated positions are prohibited from participating in a strike. Reference: Sections 2, 78 and 102 of the PSSRA.
employee (fonctionnaire)
a person employed in the public service other than part-time staff who work less than one-third of the normal work period, persons employed on a casual basis or on a term basis for less than three months, persons who occupy a managerial or confidential position, and other exceptions specified in Section 2 of the PSSRA.
employer (employeur)
Her Majesty in right of Canada as represented by the Treasury Board for various departments and agencies of the public service of Canada listed in Schedule I, Part I of the PSSRA.
excluded manager/excluded employee (gestionnaire exclu/fonctionnaire exclu)
a person who occupies a managerial or confidential position.
injunction (injonction)
a court order directing persons or classes of persons to do or not to do a particular act or thing.
lawful strike (grève légale)

Employees may lawfully strike if

  • the bargaining agent for their bargaining unit has chosen the conciliation method for the resolution of bargaining disputes, and
  • there is no collective agreement applying to their bargaining unit in force, and
  • seven days have elapsed from either, the receipt by the Chairperson of the PSSRB of the report of the conciliation board or conciliation commissioner, or the notification by the Chairperson to the parties of the Chairperson's intention not to establish a conciliation board or appoint a conciliation commissioner.
managerial or confidential position (poste de direction ou de confiance)

means a position:

  1. confidential to the Governor General, a Minister of the Crown, a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada or the Federal Court, the deputy head of a department or the chief executive officer of any other portion of the Public Service;
  2. classified by the employer as being in the executive group, by whatever name called;
  3. of a legal officer in the Department of Justice;
  4. of an employee in the Treasury Board;
  5. the occupant of which provides advice on staff relations, staffing or classification;
  6. the occupant of which has, in relation to staff relations matters, duties and responsibilities confidential to a position described in paragraph (b) or (c); or
  7. identified as such a position pursuant to section 5.1 or 5.2, the identification of which has not been terminated pursuant to section 5.3.
strike (grève)
includes a cessation of work or a refusal to work or to continue to work by employees, in combination, in concert or in accordance with a common understanding and a slow-down of work or other concerted activity on the part of employees that is designed to restrict or limit output.
unlawful strike (grève illégale)

Strikes under any other circumstances are unlawful. Specifically, section 102 of the PSSRA prohibits employees from striking where

  • they are not included in a bargaining unit for which a bargaining agent has been certified by the PSSRB (i.e. employees who are managerial or confidential exclusions from their bargaining unit, and those who are not represented by a bargaining agent), or
  • their bargaining agent has chosen arbitration as the method for resolving bargaining disputes, or
  • their bargaining agent has chosen conciliation as the method for resolving bargaining disputes and has subsequently elected pursuant to section 61(1) of the PSSRA, for the Alternate Dispute Resolution Process, for all terms and conditions in dispute, or
  • their bargaining agent has agreed, pursuant to section 90 of the PSSRA to be bound by the recommendations of the conciliation board, or
  • they occupy a position that has been designated under Section 78 of the PSSRA as having duties that are or will be necessary in the interest of the safety or security of the public, or
  • there is a collective agreement in force which applies to their bargaining unit, or
  • the seven-day period following the receipt by the Chairperson of the PSSRB of the report of the conciliation board or conciliation commissioner, or the notification by the Chairperson to the parties of the Chairperson's intention not to establish a conciliation board or appoint a conciliation commissioner, has not elapsed.

Note: The law provides various remedies for dealing with unlawful strike activity including declaration of unlawful strike (PSSRA 104), application for consent to prosecute (PSSRA 107), actions for civil damages, injunctions and disciplinary action.

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