Workers at National Arts Centre vote overwhelmingly to strike

Members from the Operations and Ushers/Box Office groups working at the National Arts Centre voted overwhelmingly to strike, having worked without a contract since 2018 and 2019 respectively.

The strike vote follows the unions efforts to get a fair deal, including declaring impasse and undergoing conciliation.

“The workers at the National Arts Centre have been through a lot, between pandemic lockdowns and the convoy affecting operations,” said Alex Silas, PSAC’s Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region. “But the federal government provided $35.4 million to the NAC to help them reopen, so why aren’t the workers being offered fair wage increases?”

Negotiations for both groups will resume this Friday and continue next week.

“We are confident a fair deal can be worked out prior to the Governor General Gala, if the employer is willing to address outstanding issues,” said Silas.

Both groups are pushing for fair wage increases, especially considering inflation and to make up for losses related to pandemic and convoy closures. For the Operations group, the employer is refusing to address outstanding issues that include overtime, leave, benefits for part-time employees, and market adjustments for positions that are paid less than comparable positions in the region.

The Ushers/Box Office group are seeking to address issues related to job security and contracting out work, bilingual bonus and the rehiring of part-time Box Office workers fired in the middle of the pandemic.

“This isn’t the little theatre we’re talking about, it’s the National Arts Centre. They shouldn’t be using the pandemic as an excuse to cut wages and make people re-start their jobs at day one,” said Silas.

As Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts, the NAC should help set the standard for what a fair and just recovery in the cultural sector looks like.