No. 01–The Role of the Board's Industrial Relations Officers
Information CircularPrintable version
The following is one in a series of information circulars prepared by the administration staff of the CIRB. The circulars are designed to provide employees, trade unions and employers with general information and a clearer understanding of Board processes. This information circular is an informal tool and is not binding on the Board.
The Board has approximately 10 industrial relations officers involved in the processing of various cases throughout Canada in addition to the regional directors. These officers provide the Board with a wide base of knowledge in labour relations as they have varied backgrounds that may include experience in the union movement or within management.
- When an application is received at one of the Board's offices, the director for that office will normally assign the case to an officer for investigation. The purpose of this investigation is for the officer to gather all the facts and documents that are relevant to the case. The officer will also endeavor to identify all the major issues which may be of importance to the application. Once the investigation is completed the officer will produce and issue a report to the Board. The officer's report is not intended to support any of the parties nor is it to draw any conclusions; the report is simply intended to provide the Board with all the pertinent information on the case. When the report is filed with the Board, the officer also sends a copy of the report to the affected parties and they are then given an opportunity to review it and respond if necessary.
- The officer may also file a confidential investigation report with the Board that will not be given to the parties. This report would only contain information protected by the Board's Regulation No. 25 concerning evidence of employees' wishes and/or union membership.
- The Board may order that a vote be taken in order to determine whether a particular union has the necessary support of the employees. Votes may be ordered to determine support in a certification application or possibly a revocation application. Also, votes may be necessary when two or more employers merge into one and the employees represented by different unions are intermingled. There may then be a need to have a vote between the unions in order to determine which one will represent the employees.
- When a vote is ordered, an officer will be appointed to complete the vote. The officer will, in consultation with the parties, make arrangements for the vote and will ensure there is proper notification of the vote to the employees. The vote will then take place by secret balloting, sometimes by mail balloting.
- After balloting has been completed the officer will count the vote, normally in the presence of the parties' scrutineers. The amount of time and co-ordination required of an officer can vary greatly as a vote may involve only a single location and a small number of employees or it may involve a multitude of locations all across Canada and thousands of employees. In the larger votes several officers will be involved in the vote.
- The Board's officers are also expected to mediate cases involving unfair labour practices as well as assisting in settling unlawful strikes and lockouts. When a case is assigned to an officer, that officer will assist the parties in reaching a resolution of their differences. If the matter is resolved, the details of the settlement are not required to be disclosed to the Board nor is the officer required to file a report with the Board.
- In certain types of unfair labour practice cases the officer may also be appointed to investigate the case in addition to mediating it. This normally occurs in "duty of fair representation" complaints filed against unions. If the mediation of this type of complaint fails, the officer will then file an investigation report. The investigation report will not disclose to the Board any offers of settlement that may have been made by a party in an attempt to resolve their differences. The report is an impartial presentation of factual information and documentation relevant to the case. A copy of the report will be forwarded to the parties for an opportunity to review it and respond if necessary.
- If a settlement has not been reached during mediation and the case has been referred to the Board, the officer may continue to assist the parties to achieve a voluntary settlement before the Board has dealt with the matter.
- The Board's officers are also responsible for communicating with the Board's clientele and the public concerning information on the Board's policies, procedures and its jurisprudence as well as providing information concerning the contents of Part I of the Canada Labour Code (Industrial Relations).
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