The Saskatchewan Employment Act prohibits both strikes and lockouts during the term of a collective agreement. Prior to a strike or lockout occurring, all parties of the collective agreement must negotiate in good faith.
A strike is any of the following actions taken by employees:
- the stoppage of work or a refusal to work or to continue to work by employees acting together with a common understanding; or
- any other concerted activity on the part of employees in relation to their work that is designed to restrict or limit output or the effective delivery of services.
A lockout is one or more of the following actions taken by an employer for the purpose of compelling employees to agree to terms and conditions of employment:
- the closing of all or part of a place of employment;
- a suspension of work; or
- a refusal to continue to employ employees.
No strike or lockout can occur during the term of a collective agreement. A collective agreement remains in full force and effect upon expiry, from year to year unless otherwise negotiated.
The parties must bargain collectively and achieve either a settlement for ratification by the parties or be at impasse. The bargaining agent cannot strike until the bargaining agent has secured a strike vote among the majority of affected employees.
However, once impasse is reached, the Minister shall be notified and will appoint either a labour relations officer, special mediator or conciliation board to address the dispute.
Up to this point, neither the union nor the employer can strike or cause lockout.
Strike or lockout can only occur after 14 days have passed in one of two instances:
- The Minister’s appointee(s) (either a labour relations officer, special mediator or the chair of the conciliation board) state that no recommendation will be advanced to the Minister; or
- The parties have reviewed the appointee(s) recommendations and decided not to accept those recommendations.
Once the labour relations officer, special mediator, or conciliation board has informed the Minister that the dispute has not been settled, a 14 day cooling-off period must occur before any strike or lockout can commence. No strike or lockout can occur before 48 hours' notice is provided to the other party, and promptly served upon the Minister, confirming the date and time the strike or lockout will commence.
For more information
The Labour Relations and Mediation Division may play a critical role prior to strike or lockout. For further information, please contact 306.787.0817 (Regina).