Compromise key to labour relations

The essential interests of management and employees in any enterprise, unionized or not, public or private, are identical.

The essential interests of management and employees in any enterprise, unionized or not, public or private, are identical.

Both want the enterprise to succeed because their respective personal well-being depends on that success.

Where they differ is in how to best serve their common interest.

It is not unusual for Canada Post’s management and union to disagree on the terms for a new contract. Whether the parties to the post office dispute would, in time, have reached a negotiated resolution is a mute point now.

What is of concern is the federal government’s response to the dispute. The government concluded that the consequences to the country as a whole from the failure of union and management to settle their differences was such that it had to step in.

A democratic government’s role in resolving a labour dispute is not that of a court. The government’s role and responsibility is not to determine who is right and who is wrong. The government’s role should be to be to bring the parties to a compromise solution. It is to encourage and motivate the parties, to goad and prompt them to narrow the gulf separating their respective positions.

The government could have done that by imposing time-limited mediation followed by arbitration should mediation fail. The objective of the government’s intervention should have been to facilitate a compromise solution.

To compromise is to settle differences through mutual concessions. Each party makes concessions with a view to achieving a result both parties can live with. An outcome where both parties agree on their own initiative to surrender demands in the interest of finding an acceptable solution is always preferable to an outcome where government declares winners and losers.

The federal government’s legislation restored postal service through the application of force. However, antagonizing, demoralizing, and humiliating postal workers will do little to improve productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness in Canada’s postal service.

The government’s legislation imposed employment conditions inferior to those offered by management.

Why did the government act in this manner? There can only be two reasons: either the management’s offer was irresponsible, exceeding Canada Post’s ability to pay, or the government saw the dispute as an opportunity to bully organized labour.

If the former is the case, the government should dismiss Canada Post’s board of directors and chief executive officer. How can the country remain confident that the management of the post office is in good hands when the federal government has to step in to prevent management from giving away the store? If management’s offer to the union exceeded the corporation’s ability to pay there must be consequences for management.

If the government’s objective was to stomp on the union in order to give the appearance of a strong and decisive federal government, that too will have consequences. The current economic malaise is due entirely to government policies that encouraged and rewarded unprecedented greed in those people with political and economic power. The government is paying the price exacted by the folly of these economic policies not by changing its policies, but by reducing public services and squeezing the middle class, by further victimizing the victims.

The government’s legislation to restore postal service all but neutralizes the position of unions in the collective bargaining process. The legislation emasculates organized labour and rewards incompetent management. This is not a recipe for economic recovery. Under such conditions the long-term prospects for effective, productive, and responsible labour relations in this country are dim.


Andre Carrel is a retired public sector administrator who lives in Terrace, B.C.



Just Posted

TDCSS to end on-campus daycare service

NWCC committed to finding licenced provider to fill space

Terrace teen honoured at Commonwealth writing competition

Ariadna Sullivan among 12,000 entrants vying for top awards

VIDEO: Researchers rely on drones to survey aftermath of B.C. wildfires

UBC researchers are using aerial drones to study the historic 2017 wildfires in the province

Rent continues to rise in Prince Rupert, drops in Terrace

A report from Canadian Mortage and Housing Corporation shows the average rent has risen by $132

Cops targeting risky behaviour, auto crime

Holiday campagaigns aim to keep roads safe, valuables protected

Pool upgrade on budget, slightly behind

Completion is set for March 30, and opening will likely be late-April, early-May

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

West Australian couple Anne Sedgwick, Lyn Hawkins have been together for 40 years

B.C. concert promoter bans Nazi symbols at shows

A man was witnessed making a Nazi salute during a heavy metal show at Pub 340

EDITORIAL: Putting #MeToo to work in your workplace

Workers from top to bottom need to stand together against the bully of sexual harassment

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Most Read