Surveying the bargaining scene (Web Sight)

By Shannon Simson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/03/2005

The relationship between employers and unions is often strained. This is particularly apparent when unions and employers are negotiating a collective agreement. The following websites look at collective bargaining issues, dispute resolution, union strategies, and the relationship between HR and industrial relations professionals.

Pensions loom large in contract talks

In this article on the Queen’s Industrial Relations Centre website, Pradeep Kumar, director of the masters of industrial relations program at the Kingston, Ont., university, answers questions on the importance of labour relations in Canada and the general climate of union-management relations. When asked about today’s most crucial labour-management issues, he responded that pensions will continue to be a key issue into 2005. “We have seen many private-sector cases like Stelco and Air Canada where pensions have been the main issue: not just the pension entitlement of the employee, but the ability of the employer to pay the retiree’s pension…Companies have significant unfunded pension liabilities in the millions of dollars — in some cases, billions.”

Applying alternative dispute resolution

This document, on the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) website, is a chart that essentially outlines, in an easy-to-read format, what third party actions are commonly used in collective bargaining disputes in the private sector across all the jurisdictions, federal and provincial.

More ADR

This second chart, also on the HRSDC website, provides an overview of the collective bargaining dispute resolution process for the much broader public sector. Measures are listed for public service employees, hospital workers, public school teachers, college and university professors, police officers, municipal firefighters and employees of Crown corporations in each of the federal and provincial jurisdictions.

What unions are talking about

The Canadian Union of Public Employees’ website features a page devoted to research, briefings and analyses specifically on collective bargaining. As this is a union site, information presented will have a more pro-union flavour, however employers can glean insights into bargaining strategies, check out labour news and read the Tabletalk newsletter to take a pulse on issues of importance to unions.

The IR/HR relationship

This lengthy document, found on the International Labour Organization website, looks at trends in HR management and the factors that influence them. The paper includes a section on conflicts between IR and HR, and considers ways to reconcile the incompatibility between the two functions. The information presented is general enough to apply to an international audience. The table of contents is hyperlinked to take users right to the particular information they’re looking for, rather than scrolling through the entire document. Well worth reading.

Shannon Simson is Canadian HR Reporter’s resource editor. Her Web Sight column appears regularly in the CloseUp section.

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