After exhausting any grievance procedure established by the collective agreement, the parties can agree to request the Director of Labour Relations and Mediation to appoint a labour relations officer to assist the parties in resolving a dispute arising from an unresolved grievance.
Grievance mediation is a less formal process than arbitration. The outcome is decided by the two parties directly affected by the dispute, unlike arbitration, where a decision is handed down by a third party.
Grievance mediation is a mutually agreed to process by which the parties to a collective agreement, with the assistance of a mediator, work toward the resolution of a grievance arising from the interpretation, application, administration or alleged contravention of a collective agreement.
Instead of the formality of an arbitration hearing, a mediator meets with representatives of both parties in an informal setting, in joint and/or separate sessions. The mediator provides a neutral viewpoint on the relative merits of the parties' positions on the grievance and may provide suggestions for its resolution. The mediator is a third party who works constructively with the parties, in a flexible and creative manner, to assist the parties in resolving their dispute(s).
How it works:
- The program is voluntary. Both parties must agree to participate.
- The mediation is informal in nature and the mediator will not produce any formal report. If an agreement is reached, the terms of settlement will be recorded.
- Arbitration remains an option if the grievance is unresolved after grievance mediation.
- All grievance mediation proceedings are without prejudice and precedence and are confidential between the parties, unless the parties agree otherwise.
Why it works:
There are several reasons why employers and unions may want to consider grievance mediation:
- Attitudes – Grievance mediation is designed to alleviate the build-up of negative attitudes which can develop when conflict goes unresolved.
- Control – Grievance mediation allows the parties to shape a settlement. If the grievance goes to arbitration, a settlement will be imposed.
- Cost – Arbitration can be an expensive process. A grievance mediator is assigned without cost for their services.
- Time – Grievance mediation is designed for resolving disputes as quickly as possible. Time delays can lead to serious morale and personnel problems.
If the dispute is not settled through grievance mediation, one or both of the parties may decide to proceed to arbitration. The Director of the Labour Relations and Mediation Division acts on behalf of the Minister when the parties request an arbitrator. Unless specified in the collective agreement, the Director provides a list of approved arbitrators for consideration by the parties. Labour relations officers are not involved in the arbitration process but may act as a mediator if the parties agree to use grievance mediation.