Teachers on Strike: What Does It Mean Exactly?  

In the News

As of November 21st, a majority of Quebec public schools will be closed for three days, while others will be closed indefinitely. Parents and students alike will have no choice but to deal with the consequences. Do you know what happens when a strike is held? 

A strike is when workers decide to stop working when their collective agreement has expired. The goal of a strike is to paralyze the business and force the employer to negotiate a satisfactory agreement. In the case of the strike on Monday, several unions representing education workers are in conflict with the Quebec government over working conditions. 

Going on strike, but doing so legally 

There’s more to going on strike than refusing to work – there are rules to respect! Three conditions must generally be met for workers to comply with the law. First, they must be part of a legally recognized union. The second condition is that their collective agreement must have been under renegotiation for at least 90 days. Finally, at least in the education and health sectors, the unions must send a written notice to the employers a little over a week before the strike. 

Did you know? Police and firefighters are not allowed to strike by law.

When a strike is said to be “general”, this means that all the workers in a bargaining unit stop working at the same time. When the strike is said to be “rotating”, it means that groups of workers take turns to stop working. 

Limits on the employer’s power 

The employer is not allowed to replace, fire, or discipline a worker who exercises their right to strike. 

Parents: you have access to time-off.

If you are a parent, you’ve no doubt received information about the strike from your child’s school. Before deciding how to organize your Monday morning, know that you have the right to take time off work to take care of your children under the Act Respecting Labour Standards. You can take up to 10 unpaid days off per year. In some cases, the first two might be paid.

To learn more read our article “Time Off Work for Personal and Family Reasons”.