Towards Better Labour Management Relations
Section 2 of the Labour Relations Code sets out the Duties
of Code as follows:
The board and other persons who exercise powers and perform
duties under this Code must exercise the powers and perform the
duties in a manner that
a) recognise the rights and obligations of employees, employers
and trade unions under this Code,
b) fosters the employment of workers in economically viable
c) encourages the practice and procedures of collective
bargaining between employers and trade unions as the freely chosen
representatives of employees,
d) encourages cooperative participation between employers and
trade unions in resolving workplace issues, adapting to changes in
the economy, developing workforce skills and developing a workforce
and a workplace that promotes productivity,
e) promotes conditions favourable to the orderly, constructive and
expeditious settlement of disputes,
f) minimizes the effects of labour disputes on persons who are not involved in those disputes,
g) ensures that the public interest is protected during labour disputes, and
the use of mediation as a dispute resolution mechanism.
In keeping with the above, Mediation Services has a range of
conflict resolution programs, such as:
Collective Bargaining Mediation
Essential Services Mediation
Relationship Enhancement Program
Collective Bargaining Mediation
Most of the time, employers and unions negotiate collective agreements without the assistance of a third
party. Occasionally, the parties are unable to resolve their differing positions. When
this happens, either party may apply to the Mediation Division for a mediator to assist in
finding a solution.
The mediator promotes objectivity and compromise, and acts as a catalyst to help the parties move away
from their polarized positions. By meeting
with the parties, either jointly and/or separately, the mediator helps the parties
understand each others interests and find ways of resolving their differences.
Either party may request mediation assistance in a collective bargaining dispute. Application forms and an explanation of the
process can be obtained from the Mediation Division or on the Boards website at
Essential Services Mediation
Under Section 72
of the Labour Relations Code, the Labour Relations Board has the responsibility for
designating the essential services that it considers necessary or essential to
prevent immediate and serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of British
Columbians during a labour dispute.
Either party in a
dispute can make application to the Chair of the Labour Board for an investigation into
whether or not the dispute poses such a threat.
Minister of Labour and Citizens' Services may then direct the Board to designate certain
services as essential. When this happens, one
or more mediators may be appointed to assist the parties in reaching agreement on
essential services designations.
agreement a Board order will be issued to designate the essential services.
mediation provides an opportunity for an employer and a union, with the assistance of a
mediator, to try to resolve grievances before going to arbitration.
mediation differs from grievance arbitration in a number of ways. Grievance mediation emphasizes compromise,
rather than the win-lose situation associated with grievance arbitration. Grievance mediation resembles collective
bargaining mediation. Instead of the
formality of an arbitration hearing, the mediator meets with representatives of both
parties in an informal setting, in joint and/or separate sessions. The mediator provides an objective viewpoint on
the relative merits of the parties positions on the particular grievance and also
provides suggestions for its resolution.
If the dispute is
not settled through mediation, it may be referred to grievance arbitration. However, the mediation process gives the parties
an opportunity to agree on the facts in the dispute and focus on their respective
arguments for resolution. This tends to
reduce arbitration costs. All discussions
during the mediation process are without prejudice and cannot be introduced in the
arbitration proceeding without mutual consent of the parties.
A request may be made under Section 87 of the
Labour Relations Code to have a settlement officer appointed, or
written request under Section 53(5) of the Labour Relations Code
can be made to the Mediation Division for grievance mediation
Joint Consultation Committee (JCC)
Under Section 53
of the Labour Relations Code, a collective agreement must contain provision for a
consultative committee that meets at least once every two months to discuss the resolution
of workplace issues.
For a JCC to be
effective, there must be a sound committee structure, a clear definition of the
committees purposes and objectives, regular meetings, open and constructive
discussion, and proper follow-up on the matters discussed.
A mediator can
assist in establishing a JCC or in revitalizing an existing committee. The mediator will attend one or more meetings to
discuss the committees operation and will remain in contact on an ongoing basis to
monitor the committees continuing effectiveness.
Application for a
mediator can be made by a joint written request under Section 53 of the Labour
Relations Code to the Mediation Division.
Relationship Enhancement Program (REP)
The REP program is
intended for parties who are experiencing difficulties in their ongoing relationship and
are committed to devoting the necessary time and resources to make changes happen.
A mediator will
hold a series of exploratory meetings with the parties to determine if a REP program can
achieve the desired results. If the parties
commit themselves to the program, the starting point will be a working session away from
the workplace where representatives of both parties agree upon a list of common objectives
and a detailed plan for changes. The goal is
to develop a continuing labour-management relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and
The mediator will
monitor progress through follow-up meetings with key representatives. This labour-management monitoring group also
channels information and progress reports to employees in the workplace.
A joint written request can be made to the Mediation Division for a Relationship Enhancement
For further information on the above and other
programs please review the following sections of the website or
Debbie Cameron, Director - Mediation Division & Conflict
Fax: (604) 660-1892
(Collective Agreement Arbitration Bureau)