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Canadian Strikes

This subject guide is meant to assist students with research papers and assignments.

British Columbia - A Selection of Notable Strikes (click on the tab, then scroll down for information on the strike)

Ikea Richmond Lockout/Strike 2013-2014

Photo of Ikea Richmond Lockout/Strike 2013-2014

Image credit: Teamster Local 213 Facebook page. 

Union: Teamsters Canada Local 213 (International Brotherhood of Teamsters)
Employer: Ikea

Summary of Events

  • On Friday, May 10, 2013, IKEA served a lockout notice on the union (about 350 employees) at the same time as the union served strike notice.
  • The labour dispute lasted 17 months starting May 13, 2013.
  • The dispute was called a lockout by the union and a strike by IKEA. In 2013 the B.C. Labour Relations Board ruled that it was a strike.
  • The store remained open with reduced hours during the course of the lockout, operated in part by managers, excluded staff, and bargaining unit employees who had crossed the picket line. The union filed a complaint with the B.C. Labour Relations Board alleging that IKEA was using illegal replacement workers contrary to ss. 6(3)(e) and 68(1) of the B.C. Labour Relations Code. Section 68(1). The Board ordered the employer to cease and desist from those breaches and authorized wide-reaching industrial relations audits for the duration of any strike or lockout.
  • On August 29, 2014 the Labour Relations Board ruled that IKEA bargained in bad faith and violated provincial labour law by trying to bargain directly with striking workers through a website posting. The union complained to the labour board that the company offered striking employees an extra $2.50 an hour, additional weekend premiums and other incentives to cross picket lines on its website. For the decision see
  • For the union security clause decision see IKEA Canada Limited Partnership v Teamsters, Local Union No 213, 2014 CanLII 50317 (BC LRB)
  • 10-year agreement reached on the matters of wages, benefits and operations flexibility reached through binding recommendations issued by mediator Vince Ready. The deal includes automatic annual increases for all employees and “generous benefits” including a new health-care spending account, and allows employees who crossed the picket line to perform their jobs during the dispute to remain employed at the store.

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BC Teachers Strike 2014

BC teachers strike photo

Image credit: Dyck, D. The Canadian Press.

Union: British Columbia Teachers' Federation (BCTF)
Employer: British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA)

In 2002, the previous government introduced legislation that took away the teacher's ability to have a say in classroom sizes and composition (how many special needs students per classroom). The teachers challenged this and Justice Susan Griffin ruled in their favour, but the government did not change the legislation. This led to a 3 day walkout in 2012, more court battles, and eventually a strike in June 2014 that lasted until September 19th 2014. The BCTF was without a contract for over a year.

$105 million was given to the union to allocate to members in the form of a signing bonus - See more at:
Summary of events:
  • February 4, 2013: bargaining begins
  • March 6, 2014: BCTF holds a strike vote with 89% in favour
  • April 2, 2014: BCPSEA files an application at the labour relations board to investigate if the dispute constitutes an esential services order
  • April 11, 2014: labour board rules services with a direct impact on health and safety as essential and orders the BCTF to give notice before any walk out and that they should be available in an emergency situation
  • May 20, 2014: BCTF gives notive of forthcoming rotating strikes
  • May 26, 2014: BCPSEA partially locks out teachers, rotating strikes being
  • June 17, 2014: full-scale strike
  • August 13, 2014: mediator Vince Ready called in
  • September 2, 2014: first day of school; teachers remain on picket lines
  • September 16, 2014: tentative collective agreement reached
  • September 18, 2014: BCTF ratifies agreement with 86% of votes
  • September 19, 2014: BCPSEA ratifies agreement unanimously
  • September 22, 2014: students start classes

Several key achievements in the agreement:

  • Several hundred new teaching positions each year as a result of an annual education fund that will be used exclusively for bargaining unit members.
  • A mutually agreed-to process to address any future Court decision as well as the removal of the contentious Article E.80 (re: class size, composition and staffing levels).
  • A significant grievance remedy fund that will be used as a one-time payment to members and will provide improvements in elementary preparation time.
  • 7.25% wage increase over the life of the agreement and improvements to benefits

    7.25 per cent wage increase over the life of the agreement and improvements to benefits - See more at:

  • $105 million signing bonus to members
  • Agreement runs for 6 years, from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2019 - a record length for the province.
  • There are no concessions.

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Vancouver Island University Faculty Strike 2011

Vancouver Island University Faculty Strike

Image credit: Nanaimo, Duncan, Cowichan, Parksville and Powell River campuses in British Columbia. VIUFA.

Union: Vancouver Island University Faculty Association (VIUFA)
Employer: Vancouver Island University

Summary of events

The Vancouver Island University Faculty Association (VIUFA) began their strike on March 10, 2011 over the employer’s, Vancouver Island University, refusal to add a no-layoffs clause to their agreement. It ended a month later on April 11, 2011 with a mediator being called in to resolve the major issues.

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B.C. Teachers Strike 2005


Summary of events

This was an illegal strike of 30,000 member of the BC Teachers' Federation against the Province of British Columbia.  It was illegal because teachers are considered an essential service in BC.  October 11, 2005 teachers were ordered back to work.  At issue were wage freezes and working conditions.

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Hospital Employees' Union Strike 2004


Image credit: The Tyee.

Union: Hospital Employees' Union
Employer: B.C. Government


Summary of events

In April 2004, forty thousand members of the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) participated in an illegal strike to prevent the privatization of their jobs and health services in British Columbia.

Camfield, D. (2008). Neoliberalism and working-class resistance in British Columbia: the Hospital Employees' Union struggle, 2002-2004. In B.D. Palmer & J. Sangster (Eds.), Labouring Canada: class, gender, and race in Canadian working-class history. (444-460).  Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press.

Isitt, B., & Moroz, M. (2007). The Hospital Employees' Union strike and the privatization of medicare in British Columbia, Canada. International Labor and Working-Class History, 71(1), 91-111.

Excerpt from article: "At the height of the dispute, thirty-thousand unionized workers in the public and private sectors took sympathetic action in support of HEU, with the strike extending to sawmills, public schools, power plants, food retailers, municipal halls, transit yards, and BC’s ferry fleet.... An anticipated province-wide general strike coordinated by the BC Federation of Labor (BC Fed) was averted when HEU’s leadership reached an agreement with the provincial government. The union won restrictions on future contracting out, but accepted a fifteen-percent wage rollback. Existing contracts covering  housekeeping, food, and laundry services remained in the hands of private healthcare corporations such as Compass Group and Sodexho."

Hospital Employees' Union News Releases Archive 2004

Guardian: The Voice of the Hospital Employees' Union, Special Strike Supplement, V. 22, No. 2 (Summer 2004)

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Blubber Bay Strike 1938-1939

Texada Island

Union: International Woodworkers of America
Employer: Pacific Lime Company


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Battle of Ballantyne Pier -- Dockers Strike 1935

Vancouver, BC

Summary of events

A violent strike which involved between 900 - 1100 dock workers on Vancouver's Ballantyne Pier.  It was a culmination of a number of strikes and and is considered by historians to have failed but lay the way for unionization of dock workers in Vancouver's waterfront.

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Vancouver General Strike 1918

Vancouver, BC

Summary of events

This was the first general strike in Canadian history.  It was a one day action in protest against mandatory drafts and is considered to be an important marker in Canadian labour history.

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