Section 95.1 of the Labour Relations Code defines Essential Services as:
- The interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the public.
- That are necessary to the maintenance and administration of the rule of law or public security.
An Essential Services Agreement, or ESA, is the contract that AUPE and an employer negotiate to determine which services are essential services and must continue during a strike or lockout.
In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in their Saskatchewan Federation of Labour decision that all workers had the constitutional right to strike during collective bargaining and to deny that right was unconstitutional under the Freedom of Association Clause (Section 2d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedom.
That ruling had wide ranging impact across the country, especially in Alberta where for decades the government denied public sector workers the legal right to strike. It forced the Alberta government to change its Labour laws to allow public sector workers to legally strike which led to the development of Essential Services Legislation.
- It prevents negotiating teams from going to formal mediation until an Essential Services Agreement (ESA) is filed with the Essential Services Commissioner. The process of ESA negotiations and Collective Bargaining run separately,but need to occur in tandem because the Legislation requires parties to file an ESA with the Essential Services Commissioner before they can apply for formal mediation under Section 65 of the Labour Relations Code for assistance in reaching a collective agreement.
- It requires that managers and bargaining unit members, as Designated Essential Services Workers (DESWs), provide essential services during a strike or lockout.
It’s extremely important. We cannot negotiate a strong ESA without robust member engagement. We cannot negotiate in a timely manner without you. The input you provide us is our most critical resource. Without it we are forced to rely on the information the employer provides to us and that would lead to weaker agreements and longer rounds of negotiation.
The best way is to contact our Member Resource Centre at 1-800-232-7284 and ask them to direct you to an ESA officer. You can also contact your Membership Services Officer (MSO) and ask them to get an ESA officer to contact you.
It’s also very important to talk to your fellow workers and encourage them to do the same.
Yes. Be ready to tell the ESA officer everything you can about your job and your worksite including your job description, your duties, scheduling, job descriptions about other workers, everything you can think of. Even if it’s something small, it could be important. The more we know about your job, the jobs of your fellow workers, and your worksite, the stronger we can make the Essential Services Agreement for your worksite.
Again, talk with your fellow workers and encourage them to also participate in the ESA process.