Union Strikes Expected for Many Canadian Employers


Dec 28,2022

Union Strikes in Canada Are All But Certain in 2023

Union Strikes to Fuel Labour Turmoil Across the Nation

Union strikes in Canada will become an increasing certainty as many unionized workforces are motivated more than ever to push their employers for better deals. Numerous labour strikes have emerged at the tail end of 2022 in Ontario as support staff in the education sector managed to negotiate better deals with the provincial government. This is only a sign of what’s to come, as many unions believe they are at the cusp of a historic labour movement in Ontario and across North America. Strikes in Canada have the potential to uproot the norm of what is considered a normal living wage, as union negotiations are set to become more tense and common in the new year.

Rising interest rates in Canada and the United States, ongoing labour shortages, and calls for increased wages across all work sectors are setting the stage for a very difficult year ahead for many employers.

Union Strikes and What Employers Should Expect in 2023

Especially complex labour turmoil in North America is likely to follow after the most recent rail worker strike. Unions representing rail workers in the United States successfully bargained for a staggering 24% increase in wages across four years, which would have been unheard of prior to 2022. Many unions north of the border have taken note of the success of this recent union negotiation, creating what is likely a wave of strikes that can threaten the economy in unique ways.

Many public sector workers, especially nurses in healthcare, have long been fighting to ensure that their wages are in line with increasing inflation. In a post-pandemic era, however, inflation has become so rampant that unions will need to negotiate substantial raises to keep incomes in proportion to rising costs of living. Past negotiation deals where employers were offering 1% increases across three years are now likely to be rejected by unions. 

Expect a number of unionized workforces that were deemed essential to strike first in 2023, including healthcare, teaching, food service, personal support, grocery store, electrical, retail, and logistics professionals, including delivery and factory workers. Other sectors that employ low-skilled workers are also likely to strike, including cleaners, janitors, cooks, fast-food workers, factory workers, and public sector support staff.

Union Strikes and Inflation in Canada

Many workers in Canada have no other choice but to take action to address the cost of living crisis that doesn’t seem to be slowing. The price of groceries in Canada soared more than 11% in 2022, and many major media pundits are expecting even more significant price increases in 2023. In addition, the cost of rent has bounced back significantly after it dipped during the onset of the pandemic. 

Even in rent-controlled areas, many landlords have boosted their rent, leaving everyday workers needing much more from their employers. With a 2023 recession all but certain due to rising interest rates, workers are likely to pressure their employers and union representatives for a deal that is in line with inflation and troubling increases in the costs of living in Canada.

Union Strike Solutions Offered by AFIMAC

AFIMAC remains your partner during difficult strike action, including union and general strikes across Canada. Explore a number of full-service solutions to address every complexity of a strike, including picket line security, protective drivers, contingent workers, and union negotiation strategies that can help manage a strike in process and bring it to an end as quickly as possible. Strikes often create several challenging security concerns for both workers and senior leaders, and AFIMAC can manage the risks of such issues to ensure all parties play by the rules.

By maintaining a database of skilled workers, AFIMAC contingent labour forces can step in and cross picket lines to support your business while helping to maintain peace among striking workforces. Ensure the safety of those crossing the picket line and that your workplace is protected from vandalism with AFIMAC strike security solutions. Many of our offerings can be dispatched on incredibly short notice helping to manage labour shortages and ensuring ongoing business continuity during a strike.

Expecting a strike in 2023? Contact Jim Rovers of AFIMAC at jrovers@afimaccan.com and start preparing before your business is caught off guard. AFIMAC maintains a number of legal resources to help your business navigate a difficult strike and keep operating.

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