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View Full Version : Should essential services be allowed to strike?



Steve McMahon
04-01-2014, 11:34 AM
I ask this as our biggest heath authority is hit by a wild cat nurse's strike.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/heart-surgeries-cancelled-over-halifax-nurses-strike-1.2593734

Should essential service providers like nurses, fire fighters, police, ambulance etc. be allowed to strike? My personal feeling is that if you take up these callings you have an obligation to provide the service. When your action puts people's lives at risk I think it crosses a line. Protest - fine, Take over government offices - fine, Blockade major sporting events - fine, Surely there are ways to put pressure on the government without putting people in jeopardy?

Captain Intrepid
04-01-2014, 11:46 AM
I certainly agree that essential services should be not allowed to strike. However, there is a serious threat to labour these days, where back to work legislation and declaration of services as essential are being abused by governments. In my profession I am not allowed to strike, and I'm fine with that, but I disagree with, say, postal workers being legislated back to work without good faith negotiations being undertaken because the employers know that the government will make the whole issue moot.

John Smith
04-01-2014, 11:52 AM
Why is the postal service not allowed to strike, but UPS is?

I think this is one good argument for keeping the Postal Service.

Meanwhile, there must be some meaningful way of employees bargaining with management.

In recent times public employees have had negotiated contracts that the politicians have decided not to honor.

How would you all handle that?

Flying Orca
04-01-2014, 11:55 AM
I believe the work environment is sufficiently slanted toward the employer that no employee should sign away his or her right to refuse to work as a condition of his or her position.

TomF
04-01-2014, 11:57 AM
I certainly agree that essential services should be not allowed to strike. However, there is a serious threat to labour these days, where back to work legislation and declaration of services as essential are being abused by governments. In my profession I am not allowed to strike, and I'm fine with that, but I disagree with, say, postal workers being legislated back to work without good faith negotiations being undertaken because the employers know that the government will make the whole issue moot.
I agree, Cap'n.

I do not think that essential services should be allowed to strike. And I'd caution the unions representing essential services against parsing words to say, for instance, "Oh, X% of nurses are essential, but Y% of nurses aren't and should be allowed to strike." In the budget situation jurisdictions are facing, what a bean-counter hears is that we only need X%.

I agree that various Governments have abused the notion of "essential," to include folks who provide "essential services" for the health of the economy. Airlines, postal workers, rail transport etc. The harm a major strike would do to the economy is real, but is not like the harm a severely ill patient would experience from being allowed to die needlessly. One might think, in fact, that a more "essential to the economy" worker might just have a bit of a reason to be paid more, eh? Something our politicians don't particularly want to consider.

slug
04-01-2014, 11:58 AM
Bargain or blackmail ? Its a fine line when considering essential public services.

TomF
04-01-2014, 12:06 PM
I think that some employers experiencing a strike (which affects their bottom line) wouldn't make the distinction between bargaining and blackmail.

There was a University professors' strike here recently - and the strike was magnificently ineffective in traditional terms. The union was looking primarily for higher wages, but the employer actually saved money for each day the professors walked the picket line. There was no real incentive for them to bargain in good faith, as they weren't losing anything tangible. the students, on the other hand, lost 3 weeks ... which were made up through cuts to March Break, and an extended term.

I have trouble with strikes when the act of striking does not have the employer become the one primarily disadvantaged.

Peerie Maa
04-01-2014, 01:37 PM
I believe that "essential" service providers should be allowed to strike. If they cannot, or their union decides that they should not they are wide open to exploitation and abuse. When that happens the service deteriorates due to poor morale or the inability to retain or recruit workers.

slug
04-01-2014, 01:48 PM
Ok....but its a fine line that public service employees walk. i view public workers strikes with suspicion, particularly when the union has a political voice. .

Air traffic controllers ? Should they be allowed to strike.?

Canoeyawl
04-01-2014, 01:56 PM
Canada eh?

"Montreal is in a state of shock. A police officer is dead and 108 people have been arrested following 16 hours of chaos during which police and firefighters refused to work. At first, the strike's impact was limited to more bank robberies than normal. But as night fell, a taxi drivers' union seized upon the police absence to violently protest a competitor's exclusive right to airport pickups. The result, according to this CBC Television special, was a "night of terror."

Shattered shop windows and a trail of broken glass are evidence of looting that erupted in the downtown core. With no one to stop them, students and separatists joined the rampage. Shop owners, some of them armed, struggled to fend off looters. Restaurants and hotels were also targeted. A corporal with the Quebec provincial police was shot and killed at the garage of the Murray Hill limousine company as taxi drivers tried to burn it down."

More...
http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/politics/civil-unrest/general-27/montreals-night-of-terror.html

Steve McMahon
04-01-2014, 02:00 PM
I agree the lines get blurred pretty bad when you start looking at what is an "essential service".
Air Traffic Controllers - maybe
Postal workers - Initially no, but that's my opinion and I don't rely on a social service, disability, or pension cheque in the mail like some do.
Teachers, again no, but if I had young kids and both my spouse and I worked I might see things differently.

slug
04-01-2014, 02:04 PM
I resent public employees striking. i cant strike.....

it is possible that their situation is so bad that they have no choice....i dont know .

Too Little Time
04-01-2014, 02:05 PM
I ask this as our biggest heath authority is hit by a wild cat nurse's strike.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/heart-surgeries-cancelled-over-halifax-nurses-strike-1.2593734

Should essential service providers like nurses, fire fighters, police, ambulance etc. be allowed to strike? My personal feeling is that if you take up these callings you have an obligation to provide the service. When your action puts people's lives at risk I think it crosses a line. Protest - fine, Take over government offices - fine, Blockade major sporting events - fine, Surely there are ways to put pressure on the government without putting people in jeopardy?

Let them strike.

I have no idea what issues they have. But if they are not happy, let them strike.

Michael D. Storey
04-01-2014, 02:06 PM
Why is the postal service not allowed to strike, but UPS is?


because one does the work and the other does not.

If they can not strike, both sides should be obligated to binding arbitration.

stromborg
04-01-2014, 02:20 PM
From first paragraph of the article:

Heart surgeries and other major operations are being cancelled Tuesday as Nova Scotia's largest hospital deals with an illegal nurses strike.

So whatever it is the nurses are striking about is worth their risking jail time.

I am a represented (union) local government employee, an 'essential service" provider, as such it is illegal for me to go on strike too. Instead we have "binding arbitration" to settle any otherwise insurmountable impasse we might have with our employer. Neither side wants to go to arbitration, it is too much of a gamble to take lightly. The arbitrators have to be agreed upon by both sides so they have to be fair to both parties or risk not working any more.

slug
04-01-2014, 02:30 PM
From first paragraph of the article:

Heart surgeries and other major operations are being cancelled Tuesday as Nova Scotia's largest hospital deals with an illegal nurses strike.

So whatever it is the nurses are striking about is worth their risking jail time.

I am a represented (union) local government employee, an 'essential service" provider, as such it is illegal for me to go on strike too. Instead we have "binding arbitration" to settle any otherwise insurmountable impasse we might have with our employer. Neither side wants to go to arbitration, it is too much of a gamble to take lightly. The arbitrators have to be agreed upon by both sides so they have to be fair to both parties or risk not working any more.



Sounds logical.

seanz
04-01-2014, 02:37 PM
I ask this as our biggest heath authority is hit by a wild cat nurse's strike.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/heart-surgeries-cancelled-over-halifax-nurses-strike-1.2593734

Should essential service providers like nurses, fire fighters, police, ambulance etc. be allowed to strike? My personal feeling is that if you take up these callings you have an obligation to provide the service. When your action puts people's lives at risk I think it crosses a line. Protest - fine, Take over government offices - fine, Blockade major sporting events - fine, Surely there are ways to put pressure on the government without putting people in jeopardy?

Of course it's a wild cat strike, don't you know any nurses?


From first paragraph of the article:

Heart surgeries and other major operations are being cancelled Tuesday as Nova Scotia's largest hospital deals with an illegal nurses strike.

So whatever it is the nurses are striking about is worth their risking jail time.

I am a represented (union) local government employee, an 'essential service" provider, as such it is illegal for me to go on strike too. Instead we have "binding arbitration" to settle any otherwise insurmountable impasse we might have with our employer. Neither side wants to go to arbitration, it is too much of a gamble to take lightly. The arbitrators have to be agreed upon by both sides so they have to be fair to both parties or risk not working any more.

Sounds like they already have some significant restrictions on the actions they can take......and they've had about enough.



The nurses would be in a legal position to strike on Thursday, but walked out early Tuesday as the provincial government debated legislation that would curtail their ability to strike.
From Steve's link.

Waddie
04-01-2014, 04:27 PM
No one who has the welfare of the public as their responsibility has the right to abandon their job and go on strike. Twice in my teaching career there were strikes. I went to work as usual. I signed a contract to teach those kids and that's exactly what I did. The demands of the strikers did not impress me. None of their demands concerned actual classroom conditions, which I thought were sufficient for teaching effectively anyways. All of their demands were over money, pensions and other personal issues like sick leave and personal days allowed. If those nurses were striking over patient issues I might support their efforts, but I doubt that's what they're striking over.

regards,
Waddie

seanz
04-01-2014, 04:36 PM
No one who has the welfare of the public as their responsibility has the right to abandon their job and go on strike. Twice in my teaching career there were strikes. I went to work as usual. I signed a contract to teach those kids and that's exactly what I did. The demands of the strikers did not impress me. None of their demands concerned actual classroom conditions, which I thought were sufficient for teaching effectively anyways. All of their demands were over money, pensions and other personal issues like sick leave and personal days allowed. If those nurses were striking over patient issues I might support their efforts, but I doubt that's what they're striking over.

regards,
Waddie

Did you teach mathematics?

skuthorp
04-01-2014, 04:42 PM
I believe the work environment is sufficiently slanted toward the employer that no employee should sign away his or her right to refuse to work as a condition of his or her position.
Agree+1.

The point about governments deciding ipso facto what is an 'essential' service' for political motives is a very valid one.

Waddie
04-01-2014, 04:49 PM
Did you teach mathematics?

I don't know what that's got to do with it :), but my certification was K7-12 Science and Social Studies. I taught 9th grade Algebra for about three years though, as we needed the extra sections. Then later I taught at a college, but in a totally different area.

BTW; I favored those personal issues the strikers were fighting for, I just didn't think walking off the job and abandoning our duties to students was the right way to do it.

regards,
Waddie

skuthorp
04-01-2014, 04:56 PM
Anne and her teaching colleagues arranged between themselves who would attend school to keep faith with the students and who would not. Government sometimes effectively locked them out and claimed that a closed school was the result of the strike. Governments of all stripes have very few morals, which is not surprising considering they are all politicians and predominantly lawyers.

John Smith
04-01-2014, 05:09 PM
because one does the work and the other does not.

If they can not strike, both sides should be obligated to binding arbitration.

I've always had the opinion insofar as UPS and such are concerned that they can strike, but they should deliver all parcels in their possession.

I notice that, so far, my other questions hasn't been answered. What is the recourse of the public employee (essential service) when there IS a contract agreed to, and management refuses to honor it?

Peerie Maa
04-01-2014, 05:27 PM
No one who has the welfare of the public as their responsibility has the right to abandon their job and go on strike. Twice in my teaching career there were strikes. I went to work as usual. I signed a contract to teach those kids and that's exactly what I did. The demands of the strikers did not impress me. None of their demands concerned actual classroom conditions, which I thought were sufficient for teaching effectively anyways. All of their demands were over money, pensions and other personal issues like sick leave and personal days allowed. If those nurses were striking over patient issues I might support their efforts, but I doubt that's what they're striking over.

regards,
Waddie

So, would you be content to work for crappy or a deteriorating standard of living? Or would you resign and go elsewhere for a better wage?

Barry
04-01-2014, 06:57 PM
YES!! Especially Nurses.

Steve McMahon
04-01-2014, 07:33 PM
YES!! Especially Nurses.

So - to heck with the patients and their families?
Is there not a better way to pressure the government than hold the public for ransom?

seanz
04-01-2014, 07:38 PM
So - to heck with the patients and their families?
Is there not a better way to pressure the government than hold the public for ransom?

A better way? There's always hope. Got any suggestions?

Steve McMahon
04-01-2014, 07:45 PM
A better way? There's always hope. Got any suggestions?

I gave a few examples in post #1.

Waddie
04-01-2014, 07:52 PM
So, would you be content to work for crappy or a deteriorating standard of living? Or would you resign and go elsewhere for a better wage?

If we couldn't find some way of making progress on wages and benefits I probably would seek employment elsewhere. What I wouldn't do is make my students suffer because I wanted 25 cents more per hour.

regards,
Waddie

seanz
04-01-2014, 07:54 PM
I gave a few examples in post #1

Steve, so you did, I should focus more on the forum and ignore the things that are going on around me.

In reality, your suggestions boil down to "don't strike, riot.", can't say I'm opposed to the concept. But. Who looks after the patients while the nurse are in jail?

Waddie
04-01-2014, 08:18 PM
Aren't we talking about public employees? How do public employees wages compare with the private sector in general?

regards,
Waddie

seanz
04-01-2014, 08:20 PM
Aren't we talking about public employees? How do public employees wages compare with the private sector in general?

regards,
Waddie

Nursing, because we can compare apples to apples, it works out about even here.

John Smith
04-01-2014, 08:33 PM
Is anyone going to address the situation when the elected officials simply ignore a negotiated contract?

Waddie
04-01-2014, 08:36 PM
Nursing, because we can compare apples to apples, it works out about even here.

Then I assume we're not talking about any nurses suffering from malnutrition due to poverty level wages, which means they have time to work it out. Even if they are prohibited from striking,(and I can't personally understand why anyone would leave an emergency room unattended) they could take their case to court or to arbitration of some sort. If that is too slow or they want to ramp things up, our police department has a very effective tactic they use; the "blue flue". Enough traffic officers call in sick and the ones on duty write much fewer tickets, which hits the city in the pocketbook. Very effective. Could the nurses set up a plan that takes care of acute cases but not enough of them on duty to provide elective surgeries and other non-essential services? That would hit the employer in the pocket book, and wouldn't turn people against the nurses position. The rest could man the picket line!!!

regards,
Waddie

Captain Intrepid
04-01-2014, 08:37 PM
Aren't we talking about public employees? How do public employees wages compare with the private sector in general?

regards,
Waddie


I find for low skill jobs they make rather more than for the private sector, and for high skill jobs, they make rather less. In my own field, I'd make roughly twice in the private sector what I'd make in the public sector.

Chip-skiff
04-01-2014, 10:05 PM
No one who has the welfare of the public as their responsibility has the right to abandon their job and go on strike.

What about the do-nothing Republican majority in the US House? All they do is vote to repeal the ACA (50 times?) and figure out ways to take bribes and hand out money to their corrupt sponsors. Isn't that the moral equivalent of a public employees' strike?

Waddie
04-01-2014, 11:20 PM
What about the do-nothing Republican majority in the US House? All they do is vote to repeal the ACA (50 times?) and figure out ways to take bribes and hand out money to their corrupt sponsors. Isn't that the moral equivalent of a public employees' strike?

Not as long as they show up for work. Perhaps they're doing exactly what the voters in their respective districts want them to do. As far as bribes and handouts are concerned, both sides have shown a propensity for that.

regards,
Waddie