Employee Ownership: How Do You Spell Success?

In this paper, the authors look at the evidence of increased employee ownership in Canada. Employee ownership of a company may involve a 100 percent buyout to avoid closure, a transfer of ownership to employees (e.g., at the retirement of the owner), or the establishment of a company stock purchase plan.

The paper looks at case studies of seven employee-owned firms in Canada. The studies show that employee ownership has meant survival, a return to profitability, and in many situations continued growth for these companies.

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Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution Systems in Canadian Nonunionized Organizations

Responding to a growing interest in the subject in recent years, this study is intended to improve our understanding of conflict management and dispute resolution systems in nonunionized workplaces in Canada. It sets out the key reasons for the increased interest in effective systems, describes the various procedures being used, and evaluates their effectiveness. The authors identify the strengths and pitfalls of various systems.

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A Change Strategy for Industrial Relations: When the Old Meets the Future at CP Rail

This article from 1996 takes a look at CP Rail, and the tremendous pressures for change it was being confronted with. Environmental forces, government policy and the responses of management and labour to their environment had a significant impact on industrial relations policies and practices at CP Rail. The story at CP Rail represents a classic case of an old system of industrial relations finally yielding to overwhelming forces for change.

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Is There a Future for the Canadian Labour Movement?

The labour movement in Canada has been under tremendous pressure in recent years. Intense global competition, economic integration and restructuring, trade liberalization initiatives such as the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, rapid and pervasive technological change, the growing service economy and dramatic changes in the growth and composition of the workforce have ushered in a drastically altered economic, labour market and public policy environment within which unions operate.

There is speculation that Canadian unions will not be able to rise above these challenges, that they are becoming weaker, their future is jeopardized and they are destined to follow the same path as their counterparts in the United States, where there have been significant declines in union membership levels and density.

On the other hand, others feel confident that, despite enormous pressures, the Canadian labour movement has shown remarkable resilience and adaptiveness. Based on a broader approach embodied in its active social unionism strategy, it is felt that unions in Canada are destined to remain dynamic and will therefore continue to diverge from the fate that has befallen American unions.

This report examines the Canadian labour movement:

  • The decline in union density by sector and industry.
  • The reasons given to explain the decline — the new economic, labour market and public policy environments.
  • The new forms of work organization to respond to the changing business environment.
  • The effect of the ‘new human resource management’ on Canada’s unions.
  • The two divergent views on the future of the Canadian labour movement.

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Work and Family Issues: Beyond ‘Swapping the Mopping and Sharing the Caring’

During the past two decades, there has been a significant transformation in the Canadian economy, labour force and in the social and familial context in which labour force participation decisions are made. An increase in the labour force participation of women, particularly married women and those with children, together with a rising number of both single-parent as well as dual-earner families in the labour force are focusing greater attention on work and family issues. Despite the changes in the labour force and family structure, a dichotomous relationship between work and family still exists creating serious conflicts for employees and employers and raising concerns for unions and policymakers.

Government policies have supported families through anti-discrimination provisions in federal and provincial human rights legislation, maternity protection and adoption provisions in federal and provincial employment standards legislation, and maternity and adoption benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Act. More recently, amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act and to employment standards legislation in several jurisdictions have extended these provisions to recognize the joint responsibility of both parents for family members and to help ‘workers balance their work and family lives in a way that encourages the retention and commitment of our … human resources in a competitive labour market’ (Ontario Ministry of Labour 1989).

This paper looks at the window of opportunity for a partnership between employers, employees, unions and governments to address the new dynamics of the workplace and the family and enable men and women to contribute more fully both on the job and at home.

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