Part VI of The Saskatchewan Employment Act outlines the process of dispute resolution through the minister's appointment of labour relations officers, special mediators and conciliation boards. They are generally people who are experienced in labour relations matters including facilitating resolution of collective agreement and collective bargaining disputes.
How is a Labour Relations Officer Appointed?
The minister may require the director of Labour Relations and Mediation to appoint a labour relations officer to investigate, mediate and report to the minister on a labour-management dispute at the request of either party involved in the dispute or on the minister's own initiative.
The parties may request the minister or the director of Labour Relations and Mediation provide bargaining assistance any time during the negotiation process. (section 6-27 of the Act)
Once an impasse is reached, either party shall notify the minister, pursuant to section 6-33. The minister shall appoint a labour relations officer, a special mediator or a conciliation board to mediate or conciliate the dispute, with specific terms as described in the Act.
How is a Special Mediator Appointed and Who Makes the Appointment?
The minister may appoint a person as a special mediator to investigate, mediate and report to the minister on a labour-management dispute at the request of either party involved in the dispute or on the minister's own initiative.
In section 6-28 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act, either party may request the assistance of a special mediator; however, appointments are made at the discretion of the minister, usually after conciliation has been unsuccessful. If the minister feels the involvement of a special mediator is necessary, the minister will determine the procedures the special mediator will follow. This may include the publication of the terms of reference and the publication of any reports submitted by the special mediator to the minister. Once appointed, a special mediator has the powers of a commissioner pursuant to The Public Inquiries Act, 2013 and is not bound by the rules of evidence, but may receive and accept any evidence the special mediator considers appropriate. The minister also has the discretion to replace the special mediator or terminate the appointment of the special mediator at any time.
How and when is a Conciliation Board Appointed?
The appointment of a conciliation board may be requested by either party involved a labour-management dispute to the minister or be appointed on the minister's own initiative. Similar to a special mediator, the conciliation board is tasked with investigating, conciliating, and reporting to the minister on the labour-management dispute.
Conciliation boards are rarely used and usually only in situations that involve a complex labour relations environment involving multiple unions and multiple employers.