Canada: Labour Law - Nova Scotia

Last Updated: December 19 2014
Practice Guide by Blaney McMurtry LLP
NOVA SCOTIA Trade Union Act, RSNS 1989, c 475, s 1
Certification/De-certification Certification

Trade union with support of at least 40% of the employees of a unit appropriate for collective bargaining may apply for certification 23(1)

Where no agreement is in force application may be made at any time 23(2)

Where a three year agreement or less is in force, application may be made only in last three months 23(4) and for a collective agreement that is longer only between the 34th and 37th month of its operation 23(5)

No altering the terms of employment of the employees in the unit once application has been made to the Board 23(7)

Vote of the employees shall be held to determine whether union has appropriate support 25(1)

Board shall determine if the unit is appropriate for collective bargaining, and may add or exclude employees 25(4)

Once a union is certified, a conciliation officer shall contact all parties to a collective bargaining to provide information and education on collective bargaining process and to assist in the settlement of a first collective agreement 25A

Revocation of Certification

Where a trade union has been certified for at least a year, and a significant number of its members allege that it is not representing them adequately, or that a majority of the employees do not support the union, the Board may, upon application, order a vote to determine the wishes of the employees in the union and may revoke certification 29
Collective Bargaining Rules Either party may give notice to commence collective bargaining 33

Where notice has been given, parties shall meet and begin to bargain within 20 days, and shall make every reasonable effort to conclude and sign a collective agreement 35(a)

Once notice has to collectively bargain has been given, the employer shall not alter the terms of an affected employee's employment until an agreement has been reached or until an agreement has failed to have been reached and the conciliation procedures have been exhausted 35(b)
Dispute Resolution in Collective Agreements Every collective agreement shall contain a provision for final and binding settlement without stoppage of work, whether by arbitration or otherwise 42(1)

Where no such provision exists, it will be deemed to exist in the form proscribed in section 42(2) 42(2)

Every party to a collective agreement must comply with the final settlement provision 42(3)

The final settlement provision remains in force after the termination of the collective agreement 44(1)

Regardless of these provisions, the parties may at any time refer a difference to a mediator-arbitrator for the purpose of resolving the grievance in an expeditious and informal manner 46D(1)

Where the parties are unable to settle the dispute in this manner, the mediator shall help the parties agree upon the material facts and shall then determine the grievance by arbitration 45D(4)

A mediator-arbitrator shall deliver a decision within thirty days after completing an arbitration of a grievance 46D(6)
Conciliation Where notice to collectively bargain has been given but the parties have failed to begin negotiations within the allotted time, or either party makes a request to the Minister, a conciliation officer may be appointed to confer with the parties 37

Where a conciliation officer has been appointed, that officer shall make a report to the Minister within 14 days laying out the matters of agreement and disagreement between the parties 38(1)

Where a conciliation officer fails to bring about an agreement, and within 14 days after the officer has made its report, either party to a collective bargaining may make an application to the Minister for the appointment of a conciliation board 39

Notwithstanding any other dispute resolution provision, the Minister may appoint a mediation officer at any time 40
Strike / Lock-out Procedures Unions may not strike until: (a) they are so authorized to commence collectively bargaining, (b) collective bargaining has failed, and either (c) a conciliation officer has failed to bring about an agreement and a 14 days have passed since a report was made and (d) a conciliation board has been appointed and failed to bring about an agreement and 7 days have passed from its report being given to the minister 47(1)

Strike may not be authorized until a strike vote is held and received majority approval, and shall not begin for 48 hours after receipt of notice by the minister of such desire to strike 47(3)

No strike or lock-out during the term of a collective agreement, except where in respect to the renegotiation of provisions expressly set aside for revision, in which case all normal grievance procedures apply 48

Where both employers and employees vote to accept a conciliation report, no strike or lock-out shall be pursued 49
Unfair Labour Practices 53 Employers may not
  • Participate or interfere with the formation or administration of a union
  • Contribute financial or other support to a trade union
  • Refuse to employ or continue to employ a person or otherwise discriminate against any persons because the person is a member of a trade union, has been expelled or suspended for reason other than a failure to pay union dues, has testified or participated in a labour proceeding, has filed any complaint under the Act, or has participated in any strike or labour action
  • Impose any condition in a contract that restrains union involvement
  • Deny to an employ any rights or benefits because of union involvement
  • Bargain collectively with a trade union other than the proper bargaining agent for a bargaining unit
54 Unions may not
  • Seek or compel an employer to collectively bargain if they are not the proper bargaining agent for a unit
  • Participate or interfere in an employer' organization
  • Go to a place of work to try and convince an employee to join or refrain from joining a union
  • Require an employer to terminate an employee for a reason other than their failure to pay union dues
  • Expel or suspend an employee for refusing to perform anything in contravention of the Act
  • Discriminate any employee because of their involvement in a proceeding
Statutory Tribunal Labour Relations Board


Board may determine questions with respect to whether
  • A person is an employer or employee
  • An organization is an employers' organization or a trade union
  • A collective agreement has been entered into and the terms thereof
  • If a group of employees is appropriate for collective bargaining
And all Board determinations in the above matters are final and conclusive
This document is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking legal advice. This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any specific questions on any legal matter, you should consult a professional legal services provider.

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