February 18, global day of action in defence of the right to strike | National Union of Public and General Employees

February 18, global day of action in defence of the right to strike

Canadians are urged to write a letter to the federal Minister of Labour asking that she support the right to strike at an upcoming meeting of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Ottawa (17 Feb. 2015) — History has shown that workers have fought long and hard to have the right to strike. Even with the recent favourable Supreme Court of Canada rulings allowing the RCMP to unionize and recognizing that the Saskatchewan government's essential services legislation is unconstitutional, there are still those who wish to strip workers of their labour rights. 

This fight to maintain workers' rights is taking place not just in Canada. Attacks against unions and unionized workers are occurring all around the world—and even at the International Labour Organization (ILO). There are three groups that make up the Governing Body at the ILO—employers, trade unions and governments. Recently, the Employers Group has been trying to overturn more than 50 years of international legal precedents recognizing the fundamental right to strike. Employers will profit mightily if they succeed, but at the expense of working and middle-class families and communities around the world.

That is why the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has designated February 18 as a global day of action in defence of the right to strike. 

NUPGE urging the federal government to respect SCC rulings, and at the ILO meeting support the right to strike

In March, the ILO Governing Body will be meeting to discuss the right of workers to strike. While the Workers Group has already made it known that it will oppose measures to restrict the right to strike, the Government Group has remained silent. 

“The Canadian government has made us proud many times for taking leading international stands for basic human decency and dignity,” says James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), “and we’re confident that it will do so again by strongly supporting the right to strike during next month’s ILO meeting.”

Clancy has written to federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch asking for her government to make a clear statement during the ILO meeting next month that Canada's government supports the right to strike. Clancy is urging other Canadians to write similar letters to the federal and to even their provincial governments. Click here for a copy of Clancy's letter or here for a draft of a letter to your provincial or territorial labour minister.

The right to strike is beneficial to all workers

Without the right to strike, trade unions and workers have no means to fight for their rights. It is this collective decision that provides the mechanism to demand something better. But unions matter to more than just unionized workers, they matter to everyone. 

"Unions work to enchance the well-being of all citizens by advancing policies that improve the economic and social conditions across society. They promote equality, justice and strengthen democracy," Clancy said.

"The very health of our communities and our country depends on the constitutional guarantee of freedom of association. This fundamental freedom has served as a foundation of democracy and economic justice in Canada and throughout the world. In fact, the Court reaffirmed that meaningful collective bargaining supports "the values of human dignity, equality, liberty, respect for the autonomy of the person and the enhancement of democracy."  The right to strike is essential to realizing these values." 

More information: 

Support the right to strike: Write a letter to the federal minister of labour

Write a letter to provincial or territorial minister of labour


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE


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