Imposing conditions after contract expires: Effective?

Rarely used option in employer’s arsenal comes with dangers, especially in public sector
By Danielle Harder
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 02/21/2012

When labour negotiations break down they typically go one of two ways — either the employer locks out employees or the employees go on strike.

But there is a third option. And, although it’s rarely used, the City of Toronto pulled it out of its arsenal to reach a deal with paramedics and outside workers, says Michael Lynk, a legal expert at Western University in London, Ont.

That option is to unilaterally change the terms and conditions of employment — essentially imposing a new contract — after the old contract has expired and while the parties are in a strike/lockout position.