APTS wins its case on accumulating seniority during a strike

February 14, 2024

Image APTS wins its case on accumulating seniority during a strike

A third arbitration decision confirms that our members’ rights must be maintained during strike action.

The facts

In 2021, your seniority was cut during strike action based on the percentage of essential services associated with your class of service. It was the first time in the history of strikes in the health and social services system that employers took this action.

The situation reoccurred during Front commun strike days in November and December 2023.

In response, the APTS requested arbitration and filed grievances, contesting the employer to ensure that your right to strike is recognized without penalty or reprisals.

Our main argument is that working conditions are maintained during a strike since, according to the Labour Code, employees must provide essential services.

We also believe that employers are wrong about the legal framework when they claim that the collective agreement does not have to be respected during a strike. They are ignoring both the Labour Code and a specific set of legal rules regarding essential services in health and social services.

Decisions handed down by three arbitrators

To date, three arbitrators have ruled in favour of the APTS. The first ruling, involving the MUHC, was handed down on June 20, 2022, while the second involving the CHUM was given on April 21, 2023. Both confirmed that members’ rights are maintained during strike action, specifically with respect to accumulating seniority.

And on January 31, 2024, as part of the CIUSSS de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Québec arbitration case, the decision handed down by arbitrator Cléroux ruled fully in our favour, confirming that – in the context of essential services – the collective agreement and members’ rights are maintained during strike action. Specifically, being on strike is an authorized absence given the essential services agreements.

Yet, rather than recognizing the decisions of the three arbitrators, the CPNSSS (the management bargaining committee for the health and social services sector) and health and social service institutions applied for judicial review on the first two decisions. (They have 30 days as of January 31 to appeal the most recent decision).

A victory throughout Québec

Regardless, these decisions set a precedent for the right to organize for all health and social services workers.

We will keep on fighting tooth and nail on this issue because of its impact on the right to strike for hundreds of thousands of people.

If during the last strike your seniority was cut, your seniority rank was changed or you lost rights, please contact your local union team right away.