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Private and Public Sector Labour Relations

According to the online Canadian Encyclopedia, the term labor relation refers to, “the relations between employers and employees”. It can also be defined broadly as the term that covers all forms of interaction between employers and employees; this includes that which occurs among employees, trade unions, employers, and employer associations (if any) in unionized workplaces and that which occurs between individual employees and their employer in non-unionized workplaces.

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The labor relations or industrial relations cover all aspects of the employment relationship, including personnel or human management, employee relations, and labor relations. However, this has been narrowed over the years to equate it to the unionized employment relationships either in the private or public domain.

The labor relations date back to the 19th century with the start of industrialization where workers built the canals and the railways. These first unions were small and local organizations that attracted hostility from the government. These unions were declared illegal. Despite all these, the unions have developed from the craft unions to nine-hour, provincial and international unions.

According to Boone, Louis E., and Kurtz terms the Collective bargaining as, “a process of negotiation between management and union representatives for the purpose of arriving at mutually acceptable wages and working conditions for employees.” The negotiations between organized labor and employers on matters such as; the minimum wage for a worker or increment wages after a period of time, working hours per week or per day, working conditions- which include the safety precautions, compensation from injury or after retirement, health and welfare programs.

Various methods may be used in the bargaining process, but the desired outcome is always mutual acceptance by labor and management of a collective bargaining agreement or contract. In this case, the end justifies the means.

This process of the collective bargain begins when the majority of the workers vote to be represented by a specific union which acts like an agent that is recognized by the management of the organization. The partnership in the modern style of approach strives for mutual understanding and common education on the part of both labor and management, and it focuses on goals and concerns common to both parties.

Since the mid-twentieth century, however, the term collective bargain has increasingly taken on a narrower, more restricted interpretation that largely equates it with unionized employment relationships. In this view, industrial relations pertains to the study and practice of collective bargaining, trade unionism, and labor-management relations, while human resource management is a separate, largely distinct field that deals with nonunion employment relationships and the personnel practices and policies of employers. Both meanings of the term coexist in the twenty-first century, although the latter is the more common.

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According to the online Wikipedia Encyclopedia

“Collective bargaining is the process whereby workers organize collectively and bargain with employers regarding the workplace. In various national labor and employment law contexts collective bargaining takes on a more specific legal meaning. In a broad sense, however, it is the coming together of workers to negotiate their employment.”

To further analyze collective bargain both the private and public sectors, I will compare the similarities and differences between the private labor relation of the Ontario labor laws and the Federal or the public labor relations in Canada.

One of the similarities that affect labor relations is the environmental factor which is always changing. The factors include; labor market which will be characterized by the supply and demand or the availability of the forces of labor in the market, political influence which is characterized by the wing supporting the political class or the opposition, economy determines how well the country or the company is performing in relation the labor market, labor laws, and the technological advancement.

Both the private and the public are run by a board. The Ontario labor relation is run by a board that first came into existence in the year 1943 as a result of the collective bargain act which was passed by the Ontario legislature. It is an independent quasi-judicial tribunal that is responsible for a wide variety of matters including determining bargaining units and bargaining agents, trade union certification, unfair labor practices, first contract arbitration, and jurisdictional disputes. The board includes the Director/Registrar, Solicitors, Field service members, Labor relations specialists, Construction coordinator, and Labor relations Officers.

The Act contained several features which are standard in labor relations legislation today: here the management dominate organizations that can not be certified, the managerial employees are excluded from the Act, and employers cannot be discriminated against employees for participation in union activity, employers are required to recognize a certified bargaining agent, and there is a duty to bargain in good faith.

The collective bargain relations also ensure before any law is amended all the stakeholders are involved viz; the employer/management, the union, and the employees.

In the same capacity, public sector relations is run by a board that first came into existence in 1969. It is also an independent quasi-judicial tribunal mandated by the Public Service Labor Relations Act to administer the collective bargaining and grievance adjudication systems in the federal public service. It is also mandated by the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to perform the same role for the institutions of Parliament.

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Both the private and public sector labor relations act to certify unions as collective bargaining agents.

The above sector also offers a wide range of adjudication services. This can be in the form of grievances either from a group or an individual. This can be in the form of interpretation of collective agreements and arbitral awards; disciplinary action resulting in termination, demotion, suspension, or financial penalty; demotion or termination for unsatisfactory performance or for any other non-disciplinary reasons; and deployment without an employee’s consent. The above sectors will also act on complaints either when one experiences unfair labor practices. The board can also receive applications from different quarters and prompt actions from the same will be of paramount importance.

In addition to the above the all the sectors can act as mediators as part of the collective bargain process, following the submission of grievances from either party as complaints about adjudication, and as a preventive measure to resolve workplace disputes at an early stage, thus avoiding a formal process and discomfort.

In case of a dispute or a complaint, the concerned party can decide not to appear in a round table discussion but choose to use the services provided by the sectors. Here the process and the gravity are reduced. The teams are dedicated to providing professional third-party assistance to help parties resolve disputes between them to their mutual satisfaction.

In contrast to the above, the public sector collective bargain carrying out compensation analysis and research. One of the duties is to provide accurate and timely information on comparative rates of pay, employee earnings, conditions of employment, and benefits in the public and private sectors.

This compensation information, obtained through market-based surveys, is availed to the employers and bargaining agents that participate in the collective bargaining process in the federal public service as well as to other interested parties. It also assists the arbitration boards and public interest commissions in making recommendations for the settlement of the different parties.

This information is a key issue for both employers and employees at the bargaining table. Here the negotiations can proceed more smoothly when both parties have equal access to accurate and comprehensive compensation information provided by a neutral and authoritative third party. It is a natural rule that when parties begin negotiations by agreeing to use available and trusted and trusted compensation survey data as a reference point, they can focus their time and effort more efficiently on negotiating other matters without hiding the cards under the table.

The key issue is the trust of all the parties and as a result, the team is always researching and consulting with other parties for the full analysis of the information collected.

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Unlike the private sector, the public sector also renders all the decisions to the public by making this available on the internet. All the documents are published frequently for all to view. The public sector is bound by the constitution. This principle guarantees the public’s right to know how justice is administered and to have access to decisions rendered by administrative tribunals and thus the need for publication.

Unlike private-sector bargaining, public collective bargaining performs the same role for the institution of the parliament. The benefit is supporting a productive and effective workplace that delivers government programs in the public interest. On the negotiation, the private sectors are represented by individuals who form the committee whereas the public is represented by the agent who is the union representative.

Another difference between public and private is, the collective bargain and negotiations are carried out by the board of Canada Secretariat which is not the case with the private one which is done by appointed committees or the agent which can constitute members drawn from the committees. In contrast, the private collective bargain varies from one establishment to the other. For instance, it varies from province to province in Ontario. Apart from the variance from the geographical and the establishment, it also varies in the conditions and the nature of the work between the private and the public sectors. In the private sector, the grievances resolving involves the board appointing an officer who later gives a report to the board. It is here that the board will take the necessary actions.

The process of certifications also varies between private and public labor relations. In the private sector, it also varies from province to province. It involves a process of mobilizing employees to sign the union cards which are then filed with the concerned labor board. The process is supervised by the labor board where the winner takes the certification.

In conclusion, the field and practice of industrial relations began in the early years of the twentieth century from the craft era and evolved in numerous ways in reaction to a host of far-reaching changes in the economic, political, and social realm. It began with a broad emphasis on the employment relationship and the labor problems that grow out of this relationship. Now, this has increased to be associated with the unionized sector of the labor market.

Reference list

The Canadian Encyclopedia. “Labor Relations.” 2008. Web.

Boone, Louis E., and Kurtz, David L.” Contemporary Business. Fort Worth, TX: Dryden Press.1999.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2008. Web.

Treasury Board of Canada secretariat. ”Collective Bargaining”. 2008. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Private and Public Sector Labour Relations." October 15, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Private and Public Sector Labour Relations." October 15, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Private and Public Sector Labour Relations'. 15 October.

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