The following questions relate to the collective bargaining process at Dalhousie University. If you have a question that is not included below, send it to labour@dal.ca. Please review the question guidelines before submitting your question.

How will Dalhousie’s communications on this website affect collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is part of the life cycle of a collective agreement. The information posted on this website will assist the university community in understanding the process as it unfolds without interfering with the collective bargaining processes.


What happens if the employer and the union are unable to conclude a collective agreement through the collective bargaining process?

If the parties are unable to reach agreement, either party (or both) may request the appointment of a conciliation officer by the Minister Labour and Advanced Education.

What is conciliation?

Some parties successfully negotiate collective agreements without the use of a third party. However, the labour statutes in Nova Scotia recognize that this is not always possible.

Conciliation is the process of intervention in collective bargaining by a neutral third party knowledgeable in effective negotiation procedures. This third party is called a "conciliator." This person helps employers and unions reach a collective agreement but has no authority to make decisions. The Trade Union Act requires the parties to meet with a conciliator to try and resolve their contract dispute before they can legally strike or lock out.

How and when is a conciliator appointed?

Conciliators are appointed by the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education at the written request of one or both parties when negotiations have broken down. If either the employer or the union requests the appointment of a conciliator, or if the parties jointly request the appointment, the application is processed as soon as reasonably possible and both parties are advised of the appointment in writing. The conciliator then contacts the leads for the parties by telephone to arrange the time and place of meetings.

What happens if conciliation is unsuccessful?

If the Conciliation officer determines that an agreement will not be reached, he/she declares an impasse. The law then requires the Conciliation officer to file a confidential report with the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. This report is referred to as a ‘No Board Report’. A 14-calendar-day countdown period begins at 12:01 am on the day following the filing of the report.

The Conciliation officer may request the parties to attend a meeting during the countdown period in a further attempt to reach a settlement and avoid a work stoppage (strike or lockout).

If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the following conditions must be met before either party may engage in a legal work stoppage:

  • The 14-calendar-day countdown must have expired; and
  • Written 48 hours’ notice of intention to strike by the union or lockout by the employer must be received by the Minister. The 48 hours’ notice can occur within the 14 calendar day countdown.

What is a strike vote?

A strike vote is a very common tool that unions will use to assess their members’ willingness to strike or threaten strike in order to achieve their bargaining goals. The unions are entitled to request a strike vote at any point during the process, whether or not a bargaining impasse has been reached.

A ‘strike vote’ does not necessarily indicate that a work stoppage is highly likely or imminent. It is quite common to have a strong strike vote and still reach a negotiated agreement.

What if I have other questions?

If you have additional questions, please email us at labour@dal.ca.