Home » 38-3 ( 1983) » Syndicalisation de la grève

Syndicalisation de la grève

Pierre Verge

Résumé

Initialement affirmé en fonction des individus qui se coalisent, le droit de grève envisagé par le Code du travaildu Québec s'« acquiert » par l'association accréditée. L'auteur s'interroge sur les conséquences juridiques d'une telle dissociation du droit de grève des individus qui participent au mouvement collectif: limites de la liberté des salariés; responsabilité de l'instance syndicale à l'occasion des grèves illégales, de même que celle des grévistes eux-mêmes; enfin, la situation particulière des salariés qui ont assumé des charges au sein de l'association accréditée

Abstract

Unionizing the Strike

The System of collective representation and negotiation established by theQuébec Labour Code, more particularly, the limitations imposed upon the exercise of the right to strike, have substantially altered this right. It is no longer to be equated to the factual — and legal — notion of a strike, « a concerted cessation of work by a group of employees », as was originally the case. Indeed, the right to engage in a strike must have previously been « obtained » by the certified association representing the strikers if the strike is to be legal. Contrary to more liberal Systems, theQuébec Labour Code entertains an « organic » conception of the strike. Part V of theCanada Labour Code is basically similar in this respect.

Such a discrepancy between the notion of a legal strike and the original notion of a strike could eventually raise questions as to possible infringements of freedom of association guaranteed by theCanadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly so if the limits imposed upon this form of collective action were to be extended to political strikes. More immediately, the article examines the contractual, as well as extra-contractual, responsibility of the certified association in the case of a wildcat strike by employees it represents. The former perspective requires an examination of the existence and extent of the so-called « peace obligation » incumbent upon the contracting association during the collective agreement, more specifically of the possibility of this obligation's being implied in the agreement.

The second part of the text is devoted to the legal situation of the individual employee who participates in an illegal strike within the above-described union-oriented framework of the right to strike. As in the previous case involving the union itself, « contractual » responsibility — widely conceived so as to include the examination of disciplinary action under a collective agreement — raises difficulties of its own, considering the possible effect of Section 110 of theLabour Code: « No person shall cease to be an employee for the sole reason that he has ceased to work in consequence of a strike ... ». Finally, does the employee who has accepted a command post within the union owe a higher duty to the employer than other employees?

In spite of a negative answer to this last question, a global view of the System leads the author to conclude that, as a counterpart to the extensive rights conferred upon the certified union, the original right to strike has been domesticated to a considerable extent.