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 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
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.
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 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
have the right to know the accusation or charges against them, and to have particulars of
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
there is a right to a
hearing, the ability to call evidence and introduce documents, to cross-examine and to
the trial procedures
must be conducted in good faith and without actual bias; no person can be both witness and
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
in regard to serious matters such as
a suspension, expulsion or removal from office, there is a right to legal counsel.
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.
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.
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.
Coleman and Leaney,
BCLRB No. B282/95 (general law)
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
Shayler and Boyd Bechler,
BCLRB No. B411/94
(complainants not required to exhaust internal procedures in the
face of possible or actual bias)
Pereira et al,
BCLRB No. B83/97 (abolition of a union local)
BCLRB No. B415/95
Board decisions since January 1, 2000 are
available without charge on the Internet at
Board decisions can also be
Canada Law Book Inc.
240 Edward St.
Aurora, Ontario L4G 3S9
(toll free) 1-800-263-2037
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.