Work stoppage figures show continuing downward trend

First nine months of 2007 higher than 2006 but below 17-year average
By Gordon Sova
||Last Updated: 02/07/2008

With statistics for the first three quarters of 2007 now available from Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) in a report entitled Chronological Perspective on Work Stoppages 1990 – 2007, this year seems to be shaping up as relatively peaceful on the strike/lockout front. Extended to the end of the year at the current averages, 2007 should see fewer than two million person-days of work lost, the second-lowest total since 2001 and the seventh-lowest since 1990.

There have been 177 work stoppages in Canada so far in 2007 (an annual rate of 236 if projected at the same rate to year-end) compared to 298 in 2004, 260 in 2005 and only 150 in 2006. Manufacturing strikes and lockouts stand currently at 40, fewer than last year, while public administration, at 10, is marginally ahead of 2006 and education, health and social services already double at 39.

During 2007, there have been several large strikes that have inflated the numbers. The Vancouver municipal workers’ stoppage lasted roughly three months, and the Forest Industrial Relations strike went on slightly longer. Ontario construction workers were not off the job for long, but their numbers are significant. The energy pattern settlement, however, was arrived at with relatively little problem.