Job Action Summary
The process for a union to initiate a strike is outlined in the Labour Relations Code under sections 59 and 60 which have been listed above. Certain legal preconditions must be satisfied before a strike can begin. These preconditions are:
- The union and the employer must have engaged in collective bargaining (See excerpt from Citic decision below);
- Under section 13 of the Labour Relations Regulation (listed above) a returning officer is appointed to obtain a list of names from the employer to determine who is in the bargaining unit and eligible to take part in a strike vote.
- A vote must be held to determine if the majority of employees favour a strike;
- Strike notice of 72 hours must be given to the employer and the Labour Relations Board before a strike can occur;
- If a mediation officer is appointed by the Labour Relations Board, that appointment must come to an end, and 48 hours must pass before strike action.
These restrictions are intended to ensure that bargaining takes place before strikes begin. They also ensure that strikes are supported by the majority of employees and that potential disruption caused by the strike is reduced by providing notice that the strike is about to occur.
The leading authority on whether or not collective bargaining has taken place is the case between:
Citic B.C. Inc.
Power Consolidated (China) Pulp Inc. (Celgar Pulp Company) et al.
Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada, Locals 1 and 15
In this decision it was determined that collective bargaining is collective bargaining as determined by the Labour Relations Code which defines it as negotiating in good faith with a view to concluding a collective agreement. The panel in this case concluded that the parties must, at a minimum, have tabled and discussed all of the matters that are subject of collective bargaining before a strike can be initiated. With respect to all issues, the expression is taken to mean the matters of substance between the parties.