Section 10

    Purpose

The purpose of this Information Bulletin is to provide general information and guidance about the duty of fair representation and the application of the principles of natural justice with respect to membership in a trade union.  It is not a legal document and is subject to the provisions of the Labour Relations Code, the Labour Relations Regulation, the Labour Relations Board Rules and the published decisions of the Board.

  Legislative References (Code, Regulation, Rules)

Section 10;

 

Section 10

Section 10 of the Code protects every person's right to the principles of natural justice in all disputes relating to matters in the constitution of a trade union, membership in a trade union or discipline by a trade union.

 No trade union shall expel, suspend, impose a penalty or special levy on a member or refuse membership to a person if, in so doing, the union is acting in a discriminatory manner.  Similarly, a union is prohibited from such actions where a member refuses to participate in an activity prohibited by the Code.

  Natural Justice

The Board does not have general jurisdiction over issues related to the interpretation or application of a union's constitution.  That jurisdiction rests with the courts.

The Board's jurisdiction under Section 10 is limited to ensuring that the principles of natural justice are applied in internal disciplinary proceedings.  This includes the following:

 ·        individual members have the right to know the accusation or charges against them, and to have particulars of those charges,

 ·        individual members must be given reasonable notice of  charges prior to any hearing,

 ·        the charges must be specified in the constitution and there must be authority in the constitution for the ability to discipline,

 ·        the entire trial procedure must be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the constitution.  This does not involve a strict reading of the constitution, but there must be substantial compliance with the intent and purpose of the constitution provisions,

 ·        there is a right to a hearing, the ability to call evidence and introduce documents, to cross-examine and to make submissions,

 ·        the trial procedures must be conducted in good faith and without actual bias; no person can be both witness and judge,

 ·        the union is not bound by strict rules of evidence; however, any verdict reached must be based on the actual evidence at the hearing and not influenced by any matters outside the scope of the evidence, and

 in regard to serious matters such as a suspension, expulsion or removal from office, there is a right to legal counsel.

  Non-Violation

Internal discipline imposed by a union to ensure effective implementation of a strike plan is not a violation of Section 10, provided the union is even-handed in imposing sanctions.  Penalties must not be excessive. 

  Fees

If a union charges different initiation or membership fees to people for membership before and after a certification, it is discriminatory and a violation of the Code. 

   Internal Appeals

With respect to disciplinary matters, the Board will require that internal appeal procedures are pursued, unless the Board determines that such procedures are unfair or that the process will take too long.

Leading Cases

Section 10

 Coleman and Leaney, BCLRB No. B282/95 (general law)

 Zoltan Strigan, BCLRB No 138/85 (equal treatment of members, penalties must not be excessive)

 Gary Joseph Geaudrault, Robert John Greydanus and Thomas Earl Hummel, BCLRB No. 247/85 (penalties must be imposed in an even-handed manner)

 Joe Shayler and Boyd Bechler, BCLRB No. B411/94 (complainants not required to exhaust internal procedures in the face of possible or actual bias)

 Herman Pereira et al, BCLRB No. B83/97 (abolition of a union local)

 Calvin Washington, BCLRB No. B415/95  (natural justice)

 

Decisions (Copies)

Board decisions since January 1, 2000 are available without charge on the Internet at  www.lrb.bc.ca.

 Board decisions can also be purchased from:

Canada Law Book Inc.
240 Edward St.
Aurora, Ontario     L4G 3S9

Telephone (toll free) 1-800-263-2037

 

  Advice

LRB Staff provide general information and assistance to the public, but they cannot act as your representative or advisor.  For answers to specific concerns related to your situation,  you should consult a lawyer or an advisor experienced in labour relations.  For general clarification, call the Board's Information Officer at 660-1300.