Handling Labour Relations Disasters
Elaine Newman, Queen's IRC Facilitator, 2013
A female employee was involved in a romantic relationship with a male member of the team. He was married. She had enough. The romance ended. He was unable to accept the end of the relationship. He called her repeatedly, at home and at work. He openly harassed her. He distributed photos of her. The woman, her co-workers, and supervisors all saw what was happening, but no one quite knew how to help. Some didn't know if it was their business to intervene. Some thought this was a "private matter." Eventually, the mentally unstable man came to the workplace. He stabbed the woman, causing her death. He then left the workplace, and killed himself.
This is a true story.
Consider the tragic human elements involved; the impact for the families of both people involved. Consider the implications for the human resource professionals, for the union, and for every individual working in this organization:
There is widespread shock among employees, some of whom witnessed the episode
There is guilt among supervisory staff, who were aware of the harassment
There is a sense of danger that permeates the workplace, and has impact on morale
Numerous grievances are filed, asserting failure to provide a safe workplace
Numerous complaints of harassment are lodged
Absenteeism rises dramatically
Performance is affected, but supervisors are reluctant to counsel or impose discipline
Gossip is rampant
There appears to be no exit strategy from the disaster.
From Confrontation to Collaboration:
Making Union-Management Relationships Work
Rod McCorriston, SGEU, Director of Labour Relations, 2013
With thirty years of experience working in a unionized environment, I have observed a variety of collaborative relationships between employer and union. Much of my career has been spent helping to evolve the management-union relationship from confrontation to collaboration. I was directly responsible for nurturing and supporting this relationship for six years, from 2000 until 2006. I served as the Central Union Management/Staffing Liaison Officer for the Government of Saskatchewan. The Government of Saskatchewan and General Employees Union (SGEU) jointly funded this position. In this article, I share my insights on the collaborative relationship.
The Collaborative Relationship: Why Bother?
The management-union relationship feels like an arranged or forced marriage without the option of divorce. You're in it together, so you might as well try to get along and perhaps you can find some commonality of interests for the betterment of the workplace. If the collaborative approach is to be effective, there are some things to take into consideration:
The need for a continuous relationship
How to meet the needs and goals of each party
How to minimize the negative effects on each party
How to achieve a solution by consensus, where both parties agree, as this promotes a greater chance of success and acceptance
We are excited to share our new video – it's all about Queen's IRC's professional development training, from the perspective of our participants and speakers. If you were at one of our programs in the past year, you might even you see yourself in here!
Trade show prize winners
We had a great time meeting people at the Canadian Talent Management Summit in Toronto earlier this month. Many people who dropped by our booth entered our draw. Congratulations to the winners of Starbucks gift cards: Lynn Frappier and Shalini Yashodha.
Tip of the Week videos
Queen's IRC releases a video "Tip of the Week" from our expert facilitators and speakers each week via our social media sites.