For the vast majority of unionized and non-unionized workers, it is the day–to-day interactions that determine whether the workplace is a productive, engaged environment, or one that preoccupies everyone with conflict, grievances and problems. Where each workplace falls on that spectrum will largely determine productivity, quality, absenteeism, as well as retention and recruitment.
We have entered a challenging and difficult time for collective bargaining for both employers and unions. Shortly following the great recession in 2008, both management and unions reached deals relatively quickly, everyone recognizing the dramatic economic issues the parties faced at the time. From 2008 well into 2012, there was little change. Employers tried to deal with the reality of the recession, and unions waited for the anticipated rebound, assuming it would resemble almost all recessions of the past.
“Leading from behind” is a natural approach in the outdoors. It is natural in organizations too. It may sound like a passive or ineffective way to approach the challenge of being an effective leader, but I found, both in the outdoors and in organizational leadership positions, that this is the most powerful way to guide a group.
Fact-finding is an essential skill set for anybody who is in an HR, labour relations or employee relations role. If you stay in this role, at some point you will end up doing investigations, and having this skill set is going to make you much more efficient as a practitioner. Jerry Christensen, who recently retired from the City of Calgary, managed and coordinated the City’s respectful workplace program and dealt with all of their human rights issues.
Labour unions are at a critical time in history. Unions are working to engage the current membership and exploring new innovative communication strategies that are needed to reach the younger generation in a meaningful way. Gone are the days of the bulletin board as the primary sources of union news and updates.
Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada. In fact, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are not able to work due to mental health problems in any given week. Understanding and accommodating mental illness is an evolving area that requires a flexible approach. This article will discuss the key legal requirements and interesting related case-law related to workplace mental health issues.
The labour movement in Canada has a long and proud history of success and positive community involvement. Throughout the years however, union membership levels across North America have been on a steady decline. Many would argue the decline in the ranks of unions is attributed to stronger labour laws protecting workers, less interest by the young workers entering the workforce and a more transient workforce demanding flexibility and merit over seniority.
As an HR professional or senior leader, you spend years mastering the labour relations fundamentals. Not the textbook fundamentals, but the behaviours, the actions, communication styles–the way you handle sensitive situations. You log numerous failures, like the time you told the union that the grievance was invalid because they used red ink, the time you were new and mistook a seasoned union employee for a manager and accidentally told them your grievance strategy.
Francine had been disciplined before. She had been suspended for 3 days, for an angry outburst that she had in the shipping department. But this time was worse. Francine was in the cafeteria, finishing her break. Three co-workers sat down at the same table, and within minutes she began yelling and swearing at them. One of them began talking to her, trying to quiet her down. She threw her cup of tea in his face, and then left the room. Francine was terminated. The letter of termination cited the company anti-violence and harassment policies.
As media scrutiny over schoolyard and cyberbullying pervade the news, allegations of workplace harassment and bullying are on the rise. While the popularization of the terms “bullying” and “harassment” has both educated and empowered employees to assert the right to a respectful workplace, it has conversely sometimes resulted in overuse of the terms and meritless complaints in relation to reasonable management measures. Employers are left with the difficult task of managing all competing interests to ensure a safe, respectful and productive work environment.
Most people are familiar with the old adage that defines true insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Then why, in labour relations, do we continue using the same processes and methods that have not yielded positive results for us in the past? Well, some parties have learned this lesson and are trying new approaches in their search for win-win outcomes of negotiation.
The word “strategic” gets thrown around pretty loosely these days – it’s one of those business buzz words meant to instill confidence that we’ve thought this through and it’s all under control: trust us, we’ve got a strategic plan! But there’s more to it than just calling something “strategic”. The term “strategic” implies there is a thoughtful, organized strategy guiding your efforts; that a particular issue has been viewed in the broader context and your decision to proceed is based on the impacts that decision will have across the organization
In discussions with government officials and in presentations to individuals employed in government there has been a particularly strong interest in the management of human resources and labour relations. The results of this study are based on questionnaire responses from more than 250 municipal government workplaces across Canada.
Many young workers don't feel connected to the labour movement. They see it as a relic from previous generations, something that may have helped their parents but isn't helping them, and something that might even be preventing them from obtaining good jobs. So what can unions do to win over young workers? This question was discussed at a recent roundtable discussion on the future of unions in the private sector hosted by the Canadian HR Reporter, and sponsored by Queen's IRC.
Unions face many negative perceptions, such as the notion that union workers are lazy, under worked, have job security for life, and enjoy gold-plated benefits and pension packages that others can only dream about. In light of this, how can unions overcome their PR problem? This question was one of many that was put to a panel of labour relations practitioners and experts recently, at a roundtable discussion sponsored by Queen's IRC, and hosted by the Canadian HR Reporter.
The Ontario mining industry in the mid-70’s faced accident rates higher than any other industrial sector. In 1976, there were 19 fatalities, 12.5 lost time injuries (LTI’s) per 100 workers. Wildcat strikes by miners in Elliot Lake and considerable political pressure on a minority government, led to the creation of the Royal Commission on Health and Safety of Workers in Mines.
This article will discuss how familiar private and public employment sector conflict management concepts, practices and training were applied and adapted by the Department of National Defence's Conflict Management Program to prepare military units and individuals for the exigencies of overseas operations.
Following the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in Ontario (A.G.) v. Fraser (Fraser), there has, predictably, been widespread speculation as to its eventual effect on the labour relations landscape in Canada. A departure from other recent SCC case law, Fraser found that there was no constitutional guarantee for any specific form of labour relations or collective bargaining regime. Even if the decision was significant in shaping Canada’s constitutional framework for collective bargaining, any tangible effect on labour policy has yet specifically to materialize
The theory of "workplace health" can be best described by comparing a workplace to a human being. As humans, our health is often affected by the choices we make regarding diet, exercise, stress and generally the way we choose to live our lives. Poor diet, excessive stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and destructive behaviours such as alcohol and drug abuse can often lead to poor health.
In modern society, safety and privacy interests frequently seem to conflict, particularly in the workplace. Random drug and alcohol testing is one instance when these interests may conflict. Employers are obligated under occupational safety legislation to provide a safe workplace for employees. The risk of workplace accidents increases if employees are working under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Workplace investigations – where to begin? Like many organizations DynaLIFEDx conducts internal investigations for a variety of different reasons. In 2011, new to the world of Human Resources and Employee Relations, I was challenged to evaluate our internal processes for workplace investigations, identify risks and opportunities, and make recommendations on a move forward strategy. What clearly became evident was a strong desire to do the right thing, but a lack of consistency and clarity in how workplace investigations were handled.
I was a professional Fire Fighter in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), for many years before I got directly involved as a member of our Local's negotiating team. Although I was always interested in our Association's activities, and I regularly attended meetings, I never considered myself "involved-enough" to run for any committee or executive position for those first 15 years of my career.