Questions and answers about strike pay for OPSEU members in the event of a strike or lockout in the Ontario Public Service.
Your bargaining teams are bargaining for a better contract, not a strike. However, in the event of a strike or lockout, members are entitled to receive strike pay. The following questions and answers deal with issues most often raised by members.
Q1. How much is strike pay?
Strike pay is provided to members who complete strike-related duties assigned by their Local Strike Committee. Only signed up members are eligible to receive strike pay.
During weeks one to three, each member is entitled to strike pay of $150 per week plus an additional $24 per week, per dependent. The daily rate is $30 per day and $4.80 per day, per dependent.
During the fourth week, strike pay increases and each member is entitled to $240 per week (or $48 per day). Dependent pay remains the same at $24 per week, per dependent.
A dependent is defined as:
- a non-income-earning spouse (excluding a spouse on strike);
- a child under 18 (or under 26 if attending school full-time) OR a dependent child as defined by the collective agreement or benefit plan;
- a disabled family member; or
- an elderly family member who normally receives financial support from the striking member.
If both spouses are on strike, both may claim the dependents.
Q2. What are strike duties?
Strike duties include picketing, running strike headquarters, and handling logistics to name a few. These are the strategic duties assigned by your Local Strike Committee that will help put maximum pressure on the employer to ensure a short strike and a new contract.
Q3. How much time must I spend picketing to qualify for strike pay?
You must perform a minimum of four hours of strike duty per day or a minimum of 20 hours per week in order to be eligible for strike pay. Obviously, each local will want every member to put in as much time as possible to support the strike.
Q4. What about day care costs?
There are no provisions for day care costs while on strike. You must work with your Local Committees to make suitable arrangements or accommodations so that you can fulfill your strike responsibilities.
Q5. What if I am on an accommodation?
Members on accommodation should be assigned to appropriate strike duties. A member seeking accommodation has an obligation to inform their Local Strike Committee of their need for accommodation and to help their committee find accommodation solutions.
Q6. If I perform full-time Essential Service duties, can I still perform strike duties and receive strike pay?
No. Although members are encouraged to support those who are on the picket line, you cannot receive both full-time essential services pay and strike pay at the same time.
Q7. If my essential or emergency services are required for part of a day or part of a week, am I required to complete strike duties?
Yes. Essential service and emergency workers are expected to participate in “outside” strike activities if they are not performing full-time essential or emergency services. They will receive pro-rated strike pay for the balance of the day and/or the week that they perform regular strike duties.
As per the OPSEU Strike Policy, Emergency and Essential Services (EES) workers will be entitled to a daily top-up payment if their net daily EES wage is less than their daily minimum strike pay entitlement. NOTE: Net daily EES wages are calculated as gross wages received less income taxes, EI, and CPP. Other deductions are not used in the calculation of daily net pay.
Members are encouraged to spend as much time on the picket line as possible, even if you do not qualify for strike pay. As the union saying goes, “the longer the line, the shorter the strike.”
Q8. Can a seasonal employee who is on EI perform strike duties and as such receive strike pay?
Yes. Strike pay is not considered to be earnings for EI purposes so it will not be deducted from your EI benefit. However, regular EI is designed for people who have no jobs and are actively looking for work. If you spend too much time on strike duty, EI may assume that you are not available for work.
Q9. How will I receive my strike pay?
The Local Finance Sub-Committee of your Local Strike Committee submits records of strike duties weekly to the Accounting Department at OPSEU Head Office. Members then receive their strike pay from Accounting by direct deposit. Ensure that OPSEU has your most current address.
Q10. What is the Hardship Relief Committee?
This is a sub-committee of the Local Finance Sub-Committee which assists and provides advice to members who may require assistance.
The Hardship Relief Committee is responsible for helping members secure loans from credit unions and to intercede on behalf of members who are unable to meet credit obligations. The Hardship Relief Committee may make recommendations to the Local Strike Committee for the allocation of special assistance to members experiencing particular hardship. This is not funded centrally by OPSEU, but from donations, fund raising etc.
Please note that the normal hardships of being on strike do not qualify a member for hardship relief. To qualify, a member must first exhaust all other reasonable options.
All members are strongly encouraged to plan their personal finances now. Put away a pay cheque to build an extra cushion if you can. Contact your bank, credit union, your landlord, your daycare provider, etc. to discuss payment options. The earlier you make a plan the better prepared you will be.
Related: OPS Bargaining 2014 Index Page