MGEU and MPI Moving Forward with Conciliation
Nov 22, 2012
Earlier this week, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) informed the union that they have declined the MGEU’s request (sent Nov. 7, 2012) to seek interest arbitration as a means to reach a new contract.
As a result, the bargaining committee, which represents over 1,600 MPI members, has decided to look at one more alternative to resolve contract negotiations: conciliation.
Conciliation officer Dennis Harrison has been appointed by the Department of Labour to help in reach an agreement and MPI has agreed to take part. Conciliation will begin on December 6.
Whether or not conciliation will be able to yield a new contract remains to be seen. But the committee wants to examine every possible avenue to reach a fair deal for MPI members before taking any kind of job action.
MPI members are encouraged to update their contact information to ensure they receive up-to-date bargaining information.
Some frequently asked questions about conciliation
What is conciliation?
Conciliation is a type of alternative dispute resolution mechanism. The process involves a conciliator, who meets with the two parties separately in an attempt to resolve their differences. They do this by lowering tensions, improving communications, interpreting issues, providing technical assistance, exploring potential solutions and bringing about a negotiated settlement.
How does conciliation differ from arbitration?
The main difference between arbitration and conciliation is simple: Arbitration involves a third party arbitrator who hears arguments from both sides and delivers a final, binding decision, while conciliation involves having the two parties meet separately with a third party conciliation officer who acts as a go-between to help resolve their differences. Unlike arbitrators, conciliation officers have no power to impose a final settlement.
What is a conciliation officer?
A conciliation officer is an individual employed by the Department of Labour to provide assistance in resolving outstanding labour relations issues between employers and employees. Conciliation officers are available to assist parties to overcome difficulties and reach an agreement in collective bargaining. An officer's task is to keep the parties communicating and working towards a settlement. Conciliation services are conducted under a strict code of confidentiality.
How does conciliation work?
Either party may apply for conciliation services, in writing, to the Minster of Labour, stating the parties involved and outlining difficulties in negotiations. The Minister may also appoint a conciliation officer where, although the parties have not made a request, the Minister feels that it is advisable.
After appointment, a conciliation officer will, as soon as possible, confer with the parties and work to reach an agreement. Each party must attend meetings called by the conciliation officer and must provide a list of its terms of settlement. The failure of either party to co-operate with a conciliation officer may be construed to be an unfair labour practice.
Within 30 days [or longer as the parties may agree or the Minister may allow], a conciliation officer reports to the Minister setting out the issues [if any] on which the parties cannot agree and recommendations as to further steps that might be taken to facilitate a settlement.