If you have purchased a pre-construction home or condo in the GTA, you have probably heard or received word about the residential construction strike currently taking place. As one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, we understand the importance of your home and the anxiety that can surround news such as this. With the help of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), we hope to clear up the confusion and answer some questions you may have.
Framing and tile trades represented by Local 183 and Drywall and Trim represented by the Carpenters have been on strike since May 2nd.
These strikes are in the residential sector of the construction industry which (under Section 150 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act) requires negotiations to be held every 3 years, as the previous tri-year agreement expires on April 30th. 2016 is a bargaining year and the strike is a result of these statutory negotiations failing to reach an agreement.
The Ontario Labour Relations Act requires that any strike following the April 30th expiry date cannot continue past June 15th. Strikes are unpredictable and given the fact that builders are not part of these negotiations, it is impossible to foresee when a strike might end other than the June 15th return-to-work deadline. Despite this deadline however, it takes time to resume normal production once the strike has ended (See ‘What does this mean for my home?’ below for more details).
If your Empire home is affected by the strike, you will have received a notice by now, informing you of your delayed closing date range. This notice probably contained the term ‘unavoidable delay’. As per Tarion Warranty Corporation, an unavoidable delay is an extraordinary circumstance delaying a closing date through no fault of the builder or purchaser (See more). With delays caused by strikes or other ‘unavoidable delay’ circumstances, homeowners are not entitled to compensation, as per the Tarion home warranty program.
A strike with respect to specific trades can have a profound effect on the work of other trades, including those not on strike. Because the homebuilding process is linear, culminating in a final closing of a home, a delay in one aspect can affect the timing and dates of all other trades and work involved in the process. We often can’t proceed to the next step until the previous one is complete and work down the line can be effectively stopped. This means that trades that are not currently on strike may be halted and unable to proceed as well. For example, masonry work typically follows framing; a building cannot be bricked if the structure has not been completed. The absence of trim and tile trades affects the work of trades and suppliers that follow and any closing dates and post-closing repairs.
The recommencement of work following a six-week strike or those of a shorter duration is not typically a smooth process. While current work is halted, additional work piles up. Furthermore, there may not be “surplus trades” available to catch up in the time following a strike, particularly given the industries past year issues with labour supply. Also, the additional trades that have a legal right to continue to work may choose not to for personal safety or practical reasons, such as the potential for material and equipment damage, which escalate the delays.
In short, work not directly subject to strike activity can often be stopped because it is simply not possible to continue. This chain reaction tends to accelerate over the course of a strike and it can often take a greater amount of time than the strike’s duration to resume stable home production. As a result and despite our best efforts, closing dates will likely be pushed longer than the length of the strike.
Builders and homeowners alike must now wait patiently as negotiations occur. Although we all have an interest in seeing the residential strike resolve quickly we have no control in the resolution process.
In any industry, stoppages and strikes are never the ideal situation, but unfortunately they do occur. We know this is worrisome to all homeowners, and we will continue to keep you informed if the situation changes. We all hope for a quick resolution and speedy return to construction.