What should CAPE members do during another group’s strike action?

Last updated: April 17, 2023 3 PM EDT

With the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members currently voting on potential strike action, CAPE has prepared a short FAQ for its members on their rights and obligations should another group be in a legal strike position.

When could the PSAC strike begin?

PSAC’s voting period ends on April 11. Should PSAC members vote to strike, PSAC has 60 days to call the strike and must give the employer at least 72 hours’ notice before the start of a strike. Before the start of any strike, members should receive communications from their employer about how they will handle the strike.

CAPE members must speak with their immediate supervisor about any arrangements or accommodations that they may seek should they wish not to cross the picket line due to a safety and security issue. The employer is responsible for the safety of its employees at work.

Can CAPE members strike with PSAC members?

No. CAPE members are not in a legal strike position and are still required to report to work in the event of a PSAC strike.

What should CAPE members do if a picket line is blocking access to their office building?

In the event of a strike, there may be picket lines in front of CAPE members’ workplaces. Members worried about their personal safety should call their immediate supervisor and request a personal escort into the building. CAPE members will still be considered to be “at work” while waiting to enter the building and will be paid for their time.

CAPE members who do not wish to cross a picket line should speak with their immediate supervisor about working offsite during the strike. This may mean working from home or working from another office. Those crossing the picket line should expect delays in being able to access the building.

Can CAPE members be asked to take on tasks of striking workers?

Immediate supervisors may ask CAPE members to take on some of the work of their PSAC coworkers. Unless CAPE members believe the assigned work would be a threat to their safety and security, CAPE members cannot refuse a direct order from management. And while CAPE members should comply with the request, it would be appropriate to further discuss with their immediate supervisor and raise their concerns.

CAPE members should not be asked to perform work for which they are not trained or qualified to perform or that puts them or someone else in an unsafe situation.

If this occurs, please contact CAPE for advice on your specific situation.

How can CAPE members show support for striking workers?

CAPE members may wish to engage in solidarity actions to support PSAC members. Members are welcome to do this, but they must ensure that their involvement takes place outside of their work hours, such as attending a picket before work, after work, on their lunch break, or on a day they are not scheduled to work.

Resource: CAPE's strike support toolkit (includes virtual backgrounds and posters you can print at home)

CAPE members can also show solidarity in other ways, such as by providing snacks or drinks to workers who are picketing.

What other instructions should CAPE members receive from their employer? 

By now, CAPE members should have received instructions from their immediate supervisor, or a Code of Conduct to follow during a strike. If not, CAPE members can reach out to their immediate supervisor to enquire about it or to receive more instructions.

Please contact CAPE should you have more questions at general@acep-cape.ca