Changes Restore Balance, Responsibility to First Contract Arbitration

Government is following through on its commitment to restore balance and responsibility to first contract arbitration.

Amendments to the Trade Union Act introduced today, Dec. 6, will ensure the Labour Board can only impose a first agreement if it determines one of the bargaining parties is not making a best effort to reach a first collective agreement.

“The current legislation involves the Labour Board too quickly. We said we would fix this problem, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan. “These amendments remove automatic access to first contract arbitration, and will give employers more time to try to negotiate affordable agreements with their employees.”

These amendments will bring Nova Scotia’s legislation more in line with the model used by the federal government and several other provinces, which covers 85 per cent of Canadians.

The legislation will also remove the time limits on conciliation.

The conciliator must now determine the parties are at an impasse before the matter can go to the Labour Board. The Labour Board will only get involved to settle a first contract if it determines one of the parties is hampering the bargaining process.

“Today’s amendments send a positive signal to the business community,” said Luc Erjavec, vice-president Atlantic, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “The new government listened and acted quickly to bring Nova Scotia’s first contract process more in line with other Canadian jurisdictions.”

To move to first contract arbitration, one of the bargaining parties will have to demonstrate:
— the other party refused to recognize the union’s bargaining authority or
— the other party has adopted an unreasonable position or
— the other party failed to make reasonable or timely efforts to reach a contract or
— another bargaining element the Labour Board deems relevant.

If the Labour Board finds the parties are making their best effort to bargain, it may direct the parties back to conciliation. If the Labour Board determines the parties qualify for first contract arbitration, it can appoint an outside arbitrator, or the parties can choose to appear before the Labour Board, and cover their own costs.

“Now, in the rare instances when employers and employees struggle to negotiate a first agreement, a more balanced process will be there to help,” said Ms. Regan.

Source: Release

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