Effectively Managing in a Unionized Environment

Did you know that the public sector in Canada is 75% unionized, compared to only 17% in the private sector?  The key difference between a unionized and a non-unionized environment is the presence of a collective agreement.  A collective agreement is a negotiated contract that spells out the general rules and responsibilities for all parties.

The payroll department must maintain compliance with the more than 200 Federal and Provincial regulatory requirements or there is a risk of fines and penalties which can be costly.  There are 4 key strategies which will help the payroll professional to effectively achieve their goals in a unionized environment:




  1. Make sure payroll has a place at the bargaining table. Ensure your payroll department is involved before, during and after the negotiations.
  2. Take a progressive approach when dealing with issues involving unionized employees. Consider if there is a different way to look at things and try to view the situation from the perspective of all parties involved.
  3. Build cooperative relations with the union. Be proactive, focus on communication and problem solving. A collaborative approach typically leads to higher morale and increased productivity.
  4. Adopt a long term approach when making decisions. Be prepared to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.

Lori Thackray / PEO Canada / Payroll Administrator

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