Frequently Asked Questions on Strikes – HRHSSA, 2023

Find out more about the most commonly asked questions about strikes below as well as some of the most common misconceptions of strikes.

What is a strike mandate?

A successful strike vote does not necessarily mean we will automatically go on strike, but provides the bargaining team with a mandate up to and including a strike. A strike mandate will give your bargaining team the leverage they need as the employers will usually want to avoid a labour disruption. A strong strike mandate is the best way to reach a settlement quickly.  It shows the Employer that the bargaining team is supported by the membership.

What could a strike look like?

A strike can involve a range of actions—for example, targeted activities in specific workplaces or a full walking off the job at sites across the country. Leadership, in consultation, will develop a plan and determine when, where and for how long strike actions will happen.

Some examples of strike action include:

Strategic strike: A work stoppage by 10% of the bargaining unit at several key locations that will have the greatest impact.  

Rotating strike: A series of surprise, one-day walkouts at strategic locations.  

Sector-wide strike: A strike by all workers in a particular sector or industry.  

A lock-out: When the employer prevents members from working when in a legal strike position. 

General strike: A work stoppage by all PSAC members in a particular bargaining unit.

What is strike pay?

The PSAC strike fund ensures that the workers on the picket line have access to strike pay for the duration of the strike. Members must carry out 4 hours of strike duty in order to receive strike pay. The rate for full time employees (over 20 hours/s week) in the NWT is $117.35 per day, up to $586.75 per week. The rate for part-time employees (under 20 hours / week) is $82.15 per day, up to $410.75 per week. 

Is strike pay taxable?

No, your strike pay is tax free!

How will I know if I’m an Essential Worker?

An essential employee is one who occupies a position that has been designated as providing an “essential service.” This is not the same definition that was used during the pandemic. You will receive a letter from your employer letting you know you are essential. If you do not receive this letter prior to the strike, you have not been deemed essential.

How can essential workers support the strike?

Employees identified as occupying essential positions are prohibited from participating in any strike during scheduled hours. You are still a striking employee. Occupying an essential position means you cannot stop work and engage in the strike, but you remain able to support your co-workers before and after work, and during lunch breaks, by joining them on the picket line, and of course by wearing your “I support my bargaining team” swag in the workplace. The CA remains in force for essential workers. We also ask that you perform only the essential duties agreed to between the parties.

What happens if I’m on vacation when the strike starts?

Your employer has the right to cancel your vacation once a strike has been called by the Union or, the Employer serves a lockout notice. If you are an Essential Worker – and you have been notified by letter saying you are – your employer can re-call you to work. If you are not an Essential Worker you have two choices; 1) you can return from your vacation and participate in the picket line to receive strike pay 2) you can remain on leave without pay. Be prepared to return to work once the labour disruption has ended.

What happens if I’m on maternity leave?

If you are on maternity leave, you will remain being paid by Employment Insurance. You will need to check with the Employer for any allowances.

How do I update my contact information to make sure I receive all the updates?

You can update your contact info logging into your PSAC Member Portal here We also encourage you to subscribe to the UNW updates here:

What is a member in good standing?

A member in-good-standing is someone who has completed, signed, and submitted a PSAC membership application. This can be provided by the employer at the start of one’s employment, supplied by a union representative like a Shop Steward or a Local President, or supplied by the union.


Strikes are violence and not in the public’s interest.

FALSE – The majority of picket lines are non-violent. This misrepresentation results from the news media’s focus on the rare scuffles that occur on picket lines The Union does not condone the use of violence.

Workers who strike are unlawful.

FALSE – Unionized workers have a right to strike when their contract negotiations fail, and members have passed a strike vote giving the union a strike mandate. This is the one time where employees can legally negotiate terms and conditions of employment.

Unionized workers strike too much.

FALSE – At PSAC, less than 5% of contract negotiations result in a strike. We understand the challenges facing members when they vote to strike, and it is not something we take lightly. The union and the bargaining team always strategize to move negotiations along and to achieve a collective agreement efficiently. The goal is never to go on strike. A strike only happens when employers are being unreasonable at the table, such as what we are facing with your employer as they are seeking concessions and not willing to hear arguments about severance, retention of staff, and a wage increase that even gets close to inflation.

There is nothing to gain by striking.

FALSE – There is everything to gain by striking! Some of our most important wins as workers were won through strikes, such as the Rand formula from the Windsor Ford Strike, and maternity leave through a CUPW strike. Aside form the dignity and respect the workers gain from their employer by voting to strike, the improvements made to the collective agreement often result in not only material, but also non-material, gains made over the life of the collective agreement that surpass any losses incurred during a strike

There is nothing I can do when my manager hassles me about my decision to support a strike.

FALSE – If you are being hassled by supervisors or managers during the negotiations process or during or after strike action, be sure to notify your union representative who will assist you. They are not allowed to intervene or discipline you for your participation in union activities, and your union will fight to protect you. As a general rule – document any hassling in writing and bring it to your branch president or steward.