Strike Concerns for CAPE Members

August 19, 2004 With the possibility of a strike by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, members of CAPE have contacted the National Office expressing support for their union colleagues and concern for their rights and obligations during a strike. The Association has recommended the following protocol, designed to protect your right and obligation to work, while remaining supportive of your striking co-workers.
Strike Protocol
Legal position and acting employees
1. CAPE members are not in a legal strike position, so you cannot refuse to work. Even if your substantive position is one for which PSAC is the bargaining agent, you will be expected to work if you are acting in a position for which CAPE is the bargaining agent. It is possible that your employer may suspend acting appointments during a period of labour unrest. In this case, while you retain your right to work, you are not obliged to do so, and you may join your striking colleagues.
2. If you refuse to cross the picket line and report to work, either as a matter of conscience or sympathy for PSAC members, you may be subject to disciplinary action from the employer. While CAPE will try to protect your interests, we cannot recommend such action.
Commonsense and respect
3. We ask that you show sympathy and respect to those people who are on strike. Please accept in a courteous manner any buttons, stickers or leaflets they are distributing. Remember they have a right to inform you. Please express your support, as the actions they take will lead ultimately to improved pay and working conditions in the public service.
4. It is in everyone's interest that the process of picketing be peaceful and orderly. Do not under any circumstances attempt to push through a picket line, as such action could jeopardize safety or lead to physical contact that is illegal. We suggest that you speak with the picketers or the individual strike captain managing the picket line and request permission to enter the building.
When safety is an issue
5. If you have any concern or feel in the least bit intimidated, we would ask that you call your supervisor, or other senior departmental manager, and request to be brought across the line. Be patient and wait. Remember that you will be paid if you report for work, even if you spend part of your work hours waiting for your supervisor . Management is responsible to bring you across the picket line if you believe that your safety is at risk or if you are being denied access. This also applies when you leave your office.
Supporting your colleagues
6. Please be proactive in support of your striking colleagues. CAPE locals are encouraged to supply coffee and refreshments to those on the picket line. As well, we would encourage members to march with their colleagues during lunch time and on their coffee breaks. Remember, you can only demonstrate your support in this manner on your own time, not the employer's.
What if I am ordered to do struck work?
7. Sometimes under the pressure of a strike your employer may request that you do the work of an employee on strike. You may not refuse such a direct order unless you believe it would be a threat to your safety and security. We suggest that you contact the CAPE National Office and speak to your Labour Relations Officer. You are only obligated to perform the duties of your own work description, so it may be appropriate to file a grievance.