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) recognize the rights and obligations of employees, employers and trade unions under this Code,

    b) fosters the employment of workers in economically viable businesses,

    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

    h) encourages 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
    Grievance Mediation
    Joint consultation Committees
    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 other’s 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 Board’s 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.

    The 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.  Failing such agreement a Board order will be issued to designate the essential services.

    Grievance Mediation

    Grievance 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.

    Grievance 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 a joint written request under Section 53(5) of the Labour Relations Code can be made to the Mediation Division for grievance mediation assistance.

    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 committee’s 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 committee’s operation and will remain in contact on an ongoing basis to monitor the committee’s 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 understanding.

    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 Program.

    For further information on the above and other programs please review the following sections of the website or contact:

    Grant McArthur, Director - Mediation Division
    Phone: (604) 623-6575
    Fax:     (604) 660-1892

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    (Collective Agreement Arbitration Bureau)