The poor economy will continue to affect bargaining in 2010: Report

Employers will focus on controlling costs while unions focus on protecting workers' rights and benefits
||Last Updated: 02/04/2010

Continuing economic uncertainty will create a difficult collective bargaining climate in 2010, according to the Conference Board’s

Industrial Relations Outlook 2010: A Recovery Offering Little Relief


“Overall, employers will be focused on controlling costs and addressing long-term structural issues, while unions will be resisting employer demands for concessions,” said John Rankin, interim vice-president of leadership and human resources research at the Conference Board.

“Public sector employers will have little money available for new spending, including wage increases. And in the private sector, negotiations will reflect the conditions of each industry.”


Unions will be mainly concerned with addressing the impact of the recession on their members. They will be focused on protecting their existing rights and benefits, and resisting the increased use by employers of temporary workers and contracting-out of work. In general, it is unlikely that unions will seek out substantial across-the-board wage increases.

In the short-term, employers will focus primarily on controlling costs. In addition, private sector management may look to address long-term issues, such as changing global markets, future labour shortages and structural changes to the private pension plan system.

The public sector will dominate the bargaining calendar this year, as negotiations involving over 750,000 public sector workers will be conducted under uncertain economic conditions and significant government deficits.

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