Nova Scotia  -  Non-Construction
How to File a ULP Complaint


At this time there is no "Employee Advisor or Ombudsman" funded by taxpayers or union dues to help you address concerns about a Union in the Nova Scotia. If you have a problem with a Union's actions, that your Employer cannot address with the Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board and the Union, you are expected to take it up with the Union or go to the NSLRB yourself, or with a lawyer. Generally, Employees are discouraged from approaching their Employer regarding a Union's conduct.

Similarly, in Nova Scotia, Employers are discouraged from offering assistance to you if you have concerns with the Union's actions. However, while Employers may not pay legal fees of the Employees, there are times that Unfair Labour Practices (ULP) against the Union could be raised by an Employer. These situations are unusual so please read Question 1 of the Nova Scotia Unfair Labour Practices FAQ in our Downloads section for more information. In fact, print and read all nine of the ULP FAQs.

While there are many sections of the Nova Scotia Trade Union Act about Unfair Labour Practices, most relate to the relationship between Employers and the Union. We will only address those between Employees and the Union. The Union will provide significant help to Employees who want to file a ULP against the Employer and LabourWatch does not attempt to duplicate the information and resources available from them.

Get the Forms

The NSLRB has a Form specifically for Employees to file a ULP, it is called a Form 16. We have included on with this download package.

Given the difficulty the average Employee may have with any legislation such as the Nova Scotia Trade Union Act and its associated sections, if you need help, please go to the Contacts section of our website and get in touch with one of our Employee advisors.

Our "How To Guide" is only meant to address situations where you believe a Union has violated the Nova Scotia Trade Union Act regarding a Union's conduct towards employees (it is trying to unionize) or with unionized Employees the Union actually represents.

Complete the Forms

The first few sections of the Form are easy, requiring primarily names, addresses, phone and fax numbers.

You will not be required to address Section 9 of the form, as the complaint that section refers to is for Unions versus Employers complaints.

In Nova Scotia, if you are already in a Union, you will be required to complete the internal grievance process for your Union, if there is one. Also, you will be required to file a copy of your collective agreement with your complaint.

If you are not in a Union, and for example your complaint is regarding Union conduct during a certification drive you will not be required to supply a collective agreement nor of course will you be required to grieve the complaint through the Union.

Timing the Filing of Your ULP Complaint

The NSLRB states that a ULP should be filed no later than 90 days from the date on which you knew, or in the opinion of the NSLRB ought to have known, of the incident leading to the complaint.

As stated above, if you are already in a Union, the NSLRB you will required you to pursue the matter to the conclusion of the Grievence Process in your Union, if they have one. If you have not had satisfaction after this process, or you have heard nothing from the union for 6 months, you have 90 days to file your ULP with the NSLRB. This 90-day period generally starts from the last correspondence you receive from your Union, or from the end of the 6 months. Also, if your Union won't let you use its grievance or appeal process, you can make your complaint to the NSLRB and explain why you haven't first gone to your Union.

If you are not yet in a Union, you should file your ULP as soon as possible, particularly in the case of a certification drive. If your file a complaint about how the Union behaved the NSLRB may refuse their application, but if you wait too long and the Union is certified your complaint may not be heard.

Deliver Your Forms

If the NSLRB upholds a complaint, it may order a remedy that is not aimed at punishing the party that committed an infraction, but rather at putting the complainant(s) in the position they would have been had the infraction not occurred.

If the complaint is in regard to a certification drive the NSLRB may throw the drive out.

Further, the Nova Scotia Trade Union Act states specifically:

  • in respect of a failure to comply with clause (f) or (h) of Section 54, by order, require a trade union to reinstate or admit an employee as a member of the trade union; and
  • in respect of a failure to comply with clause (g), (h) or (i) of Section 54, by order, require a trade union to rescind any disciplinary action taken in respect of and pay compensation to any employee affected by the failure, not exceeding such sum as, in the opinion of the Board, is equivalent to any pecuniary or other penalty imposed on the employee by the trade union.
Updated: 2006-09-04
Informed Employees | Informed Choices
Federal or Province

In most cases you will select the province where you work.

However, select "Federal and Territories", if any of the following apply:

  • You live in Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon.
  • You work as a federal civil servant anywhere in Canada.
  • You work in one of the following industries:
    • airports or air transportation
    • broadcasting - radio, television or cable television
    • telecommunications
    • banking
    • fisheries (but only if your business relates to the protection and preservation of fisheries as a natural resource)
    • shipping and navigation (including loading and unloading vessels)
    • grain handling
    • uranium mining and processing
    • certain federal crown agencies
  • You work in one of the following industries AND (a) your activities connect one province to another OR (b) extend beyond the limit of one province:
    • air transport
    • canals
    • ferries, tunnels and bridges
    • highway transport of good or passengers
    • railway transport of goods or passengers