Queen's University

Law scholars tackle the challenges facing grievance arbitration

Kevin Banks is an expert on domestic and international labour law.

Scholars from Queen’s Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace (CLCW) are working to address the complexities of grievance arbitration, a process that is designed to resolve a dispute arising from an employee’s or a union's allegation that a term of a collective bargaining agreement has been breached.

Grievance arbitration is one of the most important aspects of labour law, but the process currently faces a wide range of challenges to its capacity to provide fair, low cost and fast dispute resolution, from human rights and personal harm claims to issues arising from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“There has been a real move towards mediation/arbitration in the last few years as a response to some of these concerns. It struck us that now would be a good time to try to get a handle on these developments to understand where arbitration is going,” says Kevin Banks, director of the CLCW, who has been instrumental in organizing an upcoming workshop on labour arbitration to be hosted at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Dr. Banks notes that any discussion about labour arbitration as access to justice will raise a number of difficult questions about what changes to arbitration processes, if any, are needed. Attendees at the workshop will also address whether the legalization of labour arbitration, and the corresponding procedures, formalities, and greater use of technical legal argument, is helping Canada reach the goal of access to justice or is actually standing in the way.

“The picture is complicated and any discussion about grievance arbitration as access to justice will likely raise as many questions as it identifies answers,” says Dr. Banks. “But we need to think about how we can reduce the potential for processing delays caused by making the procedure more legalistic. We hope focused discussion about grievance arbitration will give us an opportunity to share information and to shape a future research agenda for the CLCW.”

The CLCW works closely with scholars, academics, and practitioners to address the challenges faced by workers, employers, counsel, adjudicators and policy-makers that arise from contemporary influences including globalization, the human rights revolution, and the recent constitutional entrenchment of a right to collective bargaining.

For more information on the Labour Arbitration as Access to Justice: What’s Working and What Isn’t workshop, please visit the CLCW’s website.

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Last updated at 4:16 pm EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
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