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Industrial Relations in Canada Presentation by Ginette Brazeau, Director of Legislation, Research and Policy Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

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Presentation on theme: "Industrial Relations in Canada Presentation by Ginette Brazeau, Director of Legislation, Research and Policy Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service."— Presentation transcript:

1 Industrial Relations in Canada Presentation by Ginette Brazeau, Director of Legislation, Research and Policy Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Labour Program Human Resources and Social Development Canada

2 2 SECRET Constitutional Jurisdiction  Canada has ten provinces and three territories  The Canadian Constitution assigns jurisdiction for certain industries exclusively to the federal government and others to the provincial governments.

3 3 SECRET The Legal Framework  The Canadian collective bargaining system is HIGHLY DECENTRALIZED, but federal and provincial labour relations legislation share common characteristics. They all: –Establish certification procedures for a union to obtain recognition as the representative of employees in a particular workplace –Set the minimum duration for a collective agreement –Establish procedures for legal strikes and lockouts –Establish ways of resolving disputes during collective bargaining (conciliation and mediation) and during the life of a collective agreement (grievance and arbitration procedure) –Define unfair labour practices –Create a labour relations board, which has quasi-judicial status, to interpret the law and prescribe remedies for violations

4 4 SECRET The Legal Framework (cont’d)  In most Canadian jurisdictions, separate labour relations acts govern public sector employees  Some jurisdictions have separate acts for para-public or quasi-public sector employees (employees who work for government-funded organizations, but don’t directly work for the government)  Some jurisdictions have additional labour relations legislation that applies to particular occupations or industries (e.g. construction). This legislation usually addresses specific conditions in occupations or industries that would not be adequately covered under general labour legislation

5 5 SECRET  There are a number of federal labour relations statutes: –The Canada Labour Code regulates the federal PRIVATE sector (inter-provincial transport (ground, air, marine and rail), telecommunications, broadcasting, banking, Federal crown corporations such as Canada Post, National Museums, and Industries declared by Parliament to be for the general advantage of Canada or two or more provinces (e.g. Nuclear, Grain) ; –The Public Service Labour Relations Act regulates the bargaining relationship between the federal government and its own employees; –The Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act apples to employees of Parliament; and –The Status of the Artist Act gives collective bargaining rights to self-employed entrepreneurs in the cultural sector. The Federal Jurisdiction

6 6 SECRET The Federal Jurisdiction (cont’d)  About 1.3 million employees are subject to federal jurisdiction legislation  Approximately 40% of them are unionized  Nearly 1,500 collective agreements are negotiated under the Canada Labour Code - between 500 and 600 each year

7 7 SECRET Principles of Canadian Labour Relations Found in the Preamble Canada Labour Code, Part I:  Canada is signatory to ILO convention No. 87 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of Right to Organize;  promotes common well-being through the encouragement of free collective bargaining and the constructive settlement of disputes;  recognizes and supports freedom of association and free collective bargaining as the bases for the determination of good working conditions and sound labour-management relations;  deems the development of good industrial relations to be in the best interests of Canada in ensuring a just share of the fruits of progress for all.

8 8 SECRET The Canadian Model  Main aspects: –A certified bargaining unit is a group of workers, generally in a single workplace, considered appropriate for collective bargaining (community of interest). –The certified bargaining agent (union) has the exclusive right to bargain on behalf of all of the employees in the bargaining unit. –The certified bargaining agent is entitled to collect union dues through a “check-off” system (“Rand Formula”) –The certified bargaining agent is subject to a duty of fair representation.

9 9 SECRET The Canadian Model (cont’d) –Collective bargaining in Canada is generally decentralized: in most cases, bargaining takes place at the plant or enterprise level, between an employer and a certified bargaining unit –Collective agreements take the form of fixed term, legally binding contracts prescribing wages, hours of work and other working conditions, as well as matters such as union recognition, job security and work rules.

10 10 SECRET The Canadian Model (cont’d) –The parties have the duty to bargain in good faith and make every reasonable effort to reach a collective agreement –Strikes and lockouts are illegal during the term of the collective agreement –Some jurisdictions, such as the federal jurisdiction, provide for mandatory conciliation before the parties acquire the right to strike or lockout

11 11 SECRET Union Recognition  Employees in a workplace, by majority support, may choose to be represented by a trade union.  Certification of bargaining agent is a democratic process: –requires 50% +1 majority –evidence can be based on signed membership cards –secret ballot vote can be ordered by labour board  Unions and bargaining units are independent and free from employer interference.

12 12 SECRET Union Recognition (cont’d)  If a majority of employees are dissatisfied with their union representation, they may select another union to act on their behalf or they may apply to decertify their bargaining agent  Labour Board is empowered to hear and decide applications for certification and decertification of bargaining agents and complaints against the bargaining agent made by employees.

13 13 SECRET Bargaining Rights and Obligations  Once a union has been certified, either party can give a “Notice to Bargain” - both employer and union are required to bargain in good faith and make every reasonable effort to negotiate a collective agreement  During bargaining, the employer cannot unilaterally change any of the employees’ terms and conditions of employment  Complaints of unfair labour practices (eg. failure to bargain) can be made to the labour board, which has the power to order appropriate remedies  Neutral third party assistance (conciliation/mediation) is provided free of charge by the government to assist the parties in their negotiations (public interest in the peaceful resolution of collective bargaining disputes).

14 14 SECRET Strikes and Lockouts  Strikes/lockouts are not permitted until certain requirements have been met:  Mandatory conciliation process has been completed  Union has obtained a positive strike vote from its members  The party initiating the work stoppage has given the other party and the Minister of Labour 72 hours notice  If there are services affected that are essential to public health or safety, the parties must have reached agreement as to how those services will be provided during the work stoppage.  Note legal obligation: during a strike or lockout, the union, the employer and the employees must continue to supply services, operate facilities or produce goods to the extent necessary to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public.

15 15 SECRET The Collective Agreement The goal of bargaining is to achieve a Collective Agreement:  Legally-binding contract establishing  terms and conditions of employment, including wages, premiums, benefits and other monetary terms; and  work rules, including hours of work, seniority, promotion etc.  Minimum duration of 1 year (but longer collective agreements are more typical)  Strikes and lockouts are illegal during the term of the agreement  Any disputes over the application or interpretation of the collective agreement must be submitted to grievance arbitration

16 16 SECRET IR Indicators Across Canada  Canada’s unionization rate today is approximately 31.8%, more than twice that of the United States (13.8%).  Recent public opinion polls indicate that a majority of Canadian workers believe unions are worthwhile (Vector Research 2003).  Since 1975, there has been a significant drop in both the number of work stoppages and the person-days not worked, indicating stability in the labour-management relations climate.  Since 1995, average duration of collective agreements has increased from 24 to 38 months, reducing the number of bargaining sessions & thus reducing the potential for work stoppages.

17 17 SECRET Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service  Our Mission: The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) is responsible for providing dispute resolution and dispute prevention assistance to trade unions and employers under the jurisdiction of the Canada Labour Code.

18 18 SECRET Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service  FMCS services:  Conciliation and mediation assistance to parties engaged in collective bargaining  Preventive mediation and grievance mediation services aimed at resolving differences and improving industrial relations during the closed period of a collective agreement  Appointment of grievance arbitrators  The Labour-Management Partnerships Program, which provides seed funding for innovative projects designed to improve labour-management relationships  Research to aid in the development and implementation of industrial relations policy

19 19 SECRET FMCS Conciliation Process  Mandatory before parties can strike or lockout during a collective bargaining dispute  Government-appointed neutral assigned to meet with the employer and union to help resolve their differences and achieve a collective agreement  Government conciliators and mediators have considerable skill and expertise in resolving labour disputes – are located in 5 regional offices across Canada  FMCS settles over 90% of collective bargaining disputes without a work stoppage

20 20 SECRET FMCS Preventive Mediation Program  Relationship-by-Objectives (RBO)  Committee Effectiveness (CET)  Negotiation Skills training  Collaborative Problem-Solving  Facilitation  Grievance Mediation  Designing Grievance Resolution Processes  Joint Planning for Organizational Change  Creating Respectful Workplaces

21 21 SECRET Summary  Canadian free market economy  The Canadian IR system is a structured framework for interaction between employers and unions that works  The collective bargaining process has a negative economic impact if bargaining fails, however these same economic pressures strongly influence the parties to reach a settlement  Positive labour-management relations and cooperative workplaces contribute to higher productivity  Government, through the FMCS, plays a key role in promoting effective workplace relations


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