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Canadian Strikes

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

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

Canada Post Strike 2018

Union: Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
Employer: Canada Post

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Canada's Foreign Service Officers Strike 2013

Canada’s Foreign Service Officers Strike 2013

Image credit: CBC News. 

Union: Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO)
Employer: Federal Government (Treasury Board of Canada)

Summary of events

The 1,350 Foreign Service Officers were on strike for six months, the longest federal public service strike since the introduction of collective bargaining in 1967. PAFSO had been without a contract since July 1, 2011 and in a legal strike position since April 2, 2013.

In July 2013 PAFSO filed a complaint with the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) that the Treasury Board failed to bargain in good faith. PAFSO proposed binding arbitration, and the Treasury Board tried to impose six preconditions on the arbitration process which PAFSO could not reasonably accept as they would have predetermined the outcome in the Government’s favour. On September 13, the PSLRB ruled in favour of PAFSO. On September 16, the Government appeals the PSLRB's bad-faith ruling.

On 26 September 2013, a tentative agreement was reached.

Major issues

Equal pay for equal work

Porter Airlines Strike 2013

COPE picket line 

Union: Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 343
Employer: Porter Airlines (Porter Fixed Based Operations Ltd., a subsidiary), Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

Summary of events


  • The 22 members of COPE (fuelling workers) were negotiating a first contract when they walked off the job January 10, 2013. The workers unionized in August 2012.
  • The collective agreement was ratified on June 24, 2013 with 85% of voting members approving the deal.
  • with 85 per cent of voting members approving the deal
  • A $4-million defamation suit filed by Porter in April against the union and a COPE staffer, Mary Stalteri, for comments including ones posted to Twitter, was dropped, and the union also dropped its unfair labour practice case.

Major issues


  • When the strike began, the union said 11 employees earned $12 an hour and 11 other workers who have a higher qualification earned $14.50 an hour. The union said the workers' average annual income is $28,000, considerably less than the industry average. COPE said strike action was necessary due to workplace safety concerns, as well as the offer of only an hourly 25-cent wage increase for workers without a DZ heavy-truck licence and no increase for DZ certified workers.
  • The airline said it maintained operations throughout the strike. Other non-unionized Porter Airlines workers re-fuelled the planes.

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NHL Lockout 2012-2013

NHL lockout 

Image credit: Day 50 of the NHL lockout – Fans thoughts. (2012, November 4). The Hockey Fanatic.

Union: National Hockey League Players' Association
Employer: National Hockey League

Summary of events:


  • The lockout began September 15, 2012, after a new collective bargaining agreement could not be reached before the expiry of the NHL collective bargaining agreement on September 16, 2012.
  • On January 6, 2013 a tentative collective agreement was reached.
  • Ratification and signing of a memorandum of understanding on the agreement completed by January 12, 2013, 119 days after the expiry of the previous collective agreement.

Major issues

  • NHL: reduce the players' guaranteed 57% share of hockey-related revenues, introduce term limits on contracts, eliminate salary arbitration, and change free agency rules.
  • NHL Player's Association: increase revenue sharing between owners and a fixed salary cap that is not linked to league revenue

CP Rail Strike 2012

CP Rail strike

Image credit: McIntosh, J. / The Canadian Press. A Canadian Pacific Railway employee walks along the side of a locomotive in a marshalling yard in Calgary on May 16, 2012 [Photograph]. The Toronto Star  

Union: Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
Employer: Canadian Pacific Rail

Summary of events

  • May 23, 2012: CP Rail workers went on strike after giving a 72-hour strike notice on May 19. They voted in favour of a strike on April 27.
  • May 31, 2012: Bill C-39, Restoring Rail Service Act, An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations.
  • Arbitration Award of December 19, 2012 under the terms of the Restoring Rail Service Act
  • Major issues: pensions, post-retirement benefits, fatigue management and workplace safety.

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Air Canada Strike -- IAMAW Local 2323 - 2012

Air Canada Strike - IAMAW Local 2323

Image credit: Blinch, M. /Reuters. (2012, April 2). Air Canada labour disputes put on hold as unions fight back-to-work bills. Financial Post.

Union: International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 2323 (largest union at Air Canada representing Line Maintenance Mechanics, Auto Mechanics, Millwrights, Electricians, Inspectors, Technical Writers, Planners, Instructors, Cabin Groomers, Aircraft cleaners, Baggage and Cargo Handlers, Baggage and Cargo Agents, and Weight and Balance Agents)
Employer: Air Canada

Summary of events

  • March 15, 2012: Bill C-33, Protecting Air Service Act, An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of air service operations.
  • The IAMAW launched a constitutional challenge in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to Bill C-33. the back-to-work legislation which prevented the Local 2323 from going on strike.
  • Settled by binding final offer arbitration. For the text of the award see
  • On August 24, 2012 the IAMAW submitted a complaint to the International Labour Organization (ILO), protesting the Canadian government’s violation of the fundamental right to freedom of association and collective bargaining under international law.

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NBA Lockout 2011

NBA lockout

Union: National Basketball Players' Association
Employer: National Basketball Association

Summary of Events

The 161-day lockout began on July 1, 2011 and ended on December 8, 2011. The players’ union disbanded on Nov. 14 and filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA. On November 26, both sides reached a tentative agreement. The deal was ratified on December 8.

Main issues

Division of revenue and the structure of the salary cap and luxury tax.

Air Canada "Strike" - CUPE 2011

Air Canada "Strike" - CUPE

Union: Canadian Union of Public Employess (CUPE) (flight attendants)
Employer: Air Canada

Summary of Events

October 10: CUPE rejected a second tentative deal and served strike notice, able to walk off the job October 13. Government declared it would intervene if flight attendants walked off the job, then referred the matter to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board. CUPE was prohibited from striking while the matter was before the Board (even with a legal strike mandate).

CUPE and Air Canada opted for binding arbitration. On October 20 the earlier tentative deal which was rejected by CUPE was imposed.

Air Canada Strike - CAW 2011

Air Canada Strike - CAW

Union: Canadian Auto Workers' Union (CAW) Local 2002 (all sales and service agents who work at airports, reservation offices and crew scheduling)
Employer: Air Canada

Summary of Events

June 14: CAW on strike after 10 weeks of negotiations

June 16: back to work legislation tabled (Bill C-5, Continuing Air Service For Passengers Act, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of air service operations)

June 19: CAW announced that it ratified the tentative deal reached with Air Canada on June 16

Significance: The federal government indicated within 16 hours of the strike starting that it would intervene to end it with back-to-work legislation. Before the legislation took effect, the parties reached an agreement, ending the strike three days after it began.

Main issues: wages and pensions.

Canada Post Strike 2011

Union: Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
Employer: Canada Post

Summary of Events

On June 2, 2011 CUPW members began rotating strike actions across Canada beginning with Winnipeg in response to negotiations failing with the employer Canada Post Corporation (CPC).  CPC was asking for such concessions as lower wage and smaller pensions for new hires and changes to sick leave and the Short Term disability plan.  On June 14, 2011 CPC locked out their workers and the following day the Conservative federal government passed a bill to legislate them back to work (Bill C-6, Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act 2011, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services. Recently, there has been a court challenge to this back-to-work legislation filed by CUPW.

There have been three legal strikes by CUPW since 1975.  The first was from October 22, 1975 to December 3, 1975.  A conciliation board, chaired by Jean Morson, reported in October just prior to the strike.  On October 16, 1978 there was a strike ended by the Postal Services Continuation Act on October 19, 1978.  A concilliation board was chaired by Louis Courtemanche and subsequently a mediator-arbitrator, Lucien Trembley, was appointed. The negotiations of 1980 did not result in a strike: the Conciliation board was chaired by Germain Jutras.  in 1981 a strike took place between June 30, 1981 and August 10, 1981.  Pierre Jasmin was the chairman of the Concillatory board and Allan Gold the arbitrator. The arbitration report was not made public. (Source: CIRHR library archives)

Sources and related resources

*CIRHR library maintains archives on these strikes - Please request from library staff

CN Rail Strike 2009

CN Rail Strike

Union: Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
Employer: CN

Summary of Events

On November 24, 2009 1,700 locomotive engineers, represented by the Teamsters Canada National Rail Conference, served notice of a strike to begin on November 28.  The biggest issue was CN Rail’s intention to change working conditions by increasing engineer’s mileage cap from 3,800 miles to 4,300 miles (per month) which would result in an 36-60 work hour increase monthly.  Five days later, with the threat of back to work legislation looming Teamsters agreed that they would return to work if the employer dropped the mileage cap increase condition.  The two parties were to return to the bargaining table and if one week of negotiations were unsuccessful an arbitrator would be assigned.  This proved to be the case.  The global economic recession was considered by the arbitrator to be an important factor in this case and most of the terms of the previous collective agreement were carried forward. 

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VIA Rail Strike 2009

Union: Teamsters Canada Rail Conference

Summary of Events

Teamsters Rail Conference was the union representing the 340 VIA engineers who were without a contract since 2006.  The strike lasted for about 3 days and disrupted thousands of passengers travel plans.

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CBC Strike/Lockout 2005

CBC strike/lockout









Image credit: Ctd 2005, Magda with CBC worker Heidi Petracek.

Employer: CBC

Summary of Events

In 2005 over 5,500 CBC employees were locked out by management over future hiring practices.  This lockout lasted from August 15 to October 11.  The employees are represented by the Canadian Media Guild.  The lockout affected programming and resulted in cut backs.

Sources and related resources

NHL Lockout 2004-2005

Summary of Events

The 2004-2005 NHL lockout lasted 310 days and began after the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHL Players Association expired.  The lockout resulted in the entire season being cancelled. The deal reached included a salary cap and a 24 percent salary rollback. The union wanted to preserve a free market for salaries.

National Gallery of Canada Strike 2001

Union: Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Local 70397
Employer: National Gallery of Canada

Summary of Events

A two-month strike which started May 10. Two hundred administrative and technical staff members have been without a contract for about a year. The museum offered a five-year contract that entailed a 2.25 percent wage increase in each of the first four years, with salary renegotiation in the fifth year. The strikers wanted a three-year deal with 3 percent raises in the first and third years and 2.5 percent raises in the second.

The PSAC bargaining team unanimously recommended the acceptance of tentative three-year collective agreement reached on July 10, which the majority of members ratified on July 13. The agreement, which will expire on June 30, 2003, provides for an average increase of up to 10.25% for the duration of the collective agreement. This includes a 2.25% wage increase retroactive to July 1, 2000, as well as an additional increment at all levels and the elimination of an increment at the bottom level (this represents a 2% increase); a 2.5% increase on July 1, 2001 and the addition of a partial increment (a 0.5% increase) at all levels; and, a 3% increase on July 1, 2002. A $500 signing bonus will be paid to all workers.

The Gallery agreed to withdraw all civil suits launched against its staff during the strike and a return to work protocol was negotiated to the satisfaction of the parties.

Major League Baseball Strike 1994

Summary of Events

Lasting over 200 days this work stoppage led to the cancellation of the 1995 World Series.  The Major League Baseball Players Association went on strike in reaction to proposed salary caps by owners.

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National Day of Protest 1976

National Day of Protest

Image credit: Workers in Saint John, New Brunswick on strike, October 14, 1976. Photo via Frank & Ella Hatheway Labour Exhibit Centre.

Summary of Events

On October 14, 1976 one million workers across Canada went on strike as a show of national solidarity against the government's implementation of wage controls.

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The 1965 Postal Strike

Union: Postal Workers Brotherhood (PWB)


Summary of events

This strike was triggered when Canadian postal workers asked for a $660 wage increase; instead the Liberal government had offered the postal workers an increase of $360 if they handle the mail and $300 increase if they deliver the mail. The Liberal government's offered was based upon a study of postal wages, which they claimed at the time to be "impartial", despite other sources saying that their salary range was very low for such a labour intensive job. On top of having a low wage, the workers were also striking against their bad working conditions, as the government had been neglecting the postal system. The strike began without authorization of the PWB and local groups took to action, as they became more and more dissatisfied. On the July 22, 1965 Hamilton, Montreal, Vancouver and Oshawa went on strike. The next day, 35 other cities including Toronto went on strike the next day, making over 10,000 people on an illegal strike. One of the biggest things that came out of this strike was that the Public Sector Staff Relations Act was passed on March 13, 196, which allowed civil servants to have collective bargaining rights.

Sources and related resources

On to Ottawa Trek 1938

Summary of Events

During the decade of the 1929 to 1939 often characterized as the Great Depression men who were in work camps in British Columbia began to unionize and planned the trek to Ottawa to protest their living and work conditions.  Despite burgeoning public support, the march across Canada which was headed to Ottawa was halted in Regina by police.