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Canadian Strikes

This subject guide is meant to assist students, particularly those enrolled in IRE1611, 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

Richmond, British Columbia

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 13 May 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 29 August 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.

BC Teachers Strike 2014

BC teachers strike photo


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.

Summary of events:

  • 4 Feb 2013: bargaining begins
  • 6 Mar 2014: BCTF holds a strike vote with 89% in favour
  • 2 Apr 2014: BCPSEA files an application at the labour relations board to investigate if the dispute constitutes an esential services order
  • 11 Apr 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
  • 20 May 2014: BCTF gives notive of forthcoming rotating strikes
  • 26 May 2014: BCPSEA partially locks out teachers, rotating strikes being
  • 17 June 2014: full-scale strike
  • 13 Aug 2014: mediator Vince Ready called in
  • 2 Sept 2014: first day of school; teachers remain on picket lines
  • 16 Sept 2014: tentative collective agreement reached
  • 18 Sept 2014: BCTF ratifies agreement with 86% of votes
  • 19 Sept 2014: BCPSEA ratifies agreement unanimously
  • 22 Sept 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.
    $105 million was given to the union to allocate to members in the form of a signing bonus - See more at:

The Globe and Mail, June 24, 2014 (last updated September 8, 2014): “What you need to know about labour strife between B.C. and its teachers,” by Alexandra Posadzki

Slinn, S.J. (2012). Conflict without compromise: the case of public sector teacher bargaining in British Columbia. In A. Sweetman & S.J. Slinn. Dynamic negotiations: Teacher labour relations in Canadian elementary and secondary education (pp.81-123). Kingston, Ont: School of Policy Studies, Queen's University.

The Globe and Mail’s Politics Live feed — B.C. Teacher’s Strike

Vancouver Island University Faculty Strike 2011

Vancouver Island University Faculty Strike

Nanaimo, Duncan, Cowichan, Parksville and Powell River campuses in British Columbia (Image from VIUFA)

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.

Strike shuts Vancouver Island University (2011).  Vancouver: CBC News.

Robinson, M. (2011). Students fear all-important first jobs are at risk as strike at vancouver island university drags on. The Globe and Mail (Index-Only), pp. S.2-S.2.

B.C. Teachers Strike 2005


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.

Slinn, S.J. (2012). Conflict without compromise: the case of public sector teacher bargaining in British Columbia. In A. Sweetman & S.J. Slinn. Dynamic negotiations: Teacher labour relations in Canadian elementary and secondary education (pp.81-123). Kingston, Ont: School of Policy Studies, Queen's University.

Knickerbocker, N. (2005, Doing the right thing [teachers strike in BC]. Our Times, 24(5), 40-40

Poole, W. (2007)"Neo-liberalism in British Columbia Education and Teachers’ Union Resistance" International Electronic Journal for Leadership in Learning 11(24). 

Hospital Employees' Union Strike 2004



Union: Hospital Employees' Union

Employer: B.C. Government

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)

Blubber Bay Strike 1938-1939

Texada Island

Union: International Woodworkers of America

Employer: Pacific Lime Company


Parnaby, A. (1999). What's law got to do with it? The IWA and the politics of state power in British Columbia, 1935-1999. Labour/Le Travail, 44, 9-45,345-6.

Battle of Ballantyne Pier -- Dockers Strike 1935

Vancouver, BC

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.

Vancouver General Strike 1918

Vancouver, BC

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. 


Conley, J. R. (1987). Class conflict and collective action in the working class of vancouver, british columbia, 1900-1919.Carleton University (Canada)). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 

Sefton MacDowel, L. and Radforth (Eds.) (2006).  Canadian Working Class History

Schade, D. (2014). A militia history of the occupation of the Vancouver Island coalfields, August 1913. BC Studies, 182, 11.

Lynee, B. (1984). The Great Vancouver Island Coal Miners' Strike 1912-1914. Journal of the West, 23(4), 33

Norris, J. (1980).  The Vancouver Island Coal Miners, 1912-1914: a study of an organizational Strike. BC Studies, 45, 56.

Canada., Price, S., & Canada. (1913). Report of Royal Commissioner on Coal Mining Disputes on Vancouver Island. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau. (Also e-book)

Kavanagh, J. (1913). The Vancouver Island strike. Vancouver, B.C: B.C. Miners' Liberation League. (Also e-book)

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