Collective bargaining

In a unionized workplace, employees' terms and conditions of employment are generally set out in a collective agreement. They are negotiated and agreed to by the employer and the union (the parties) during collective bargaining.

Every union and employer will have a different approach to bargaining, including:

  • Deciding who is on the bargaining committee
  • What terms and conditions of employment will be negotiated
  • How to communicate or meet during bargaining
  • How to adopt, or ratify, the collective agreement

There are certain circumstances where the Code prohibits an employer from changing an employee's terms and conditions of employment.

When a trade union and an employer bargain a collective agreement, they have a duty under the Code to bargain in good faith.

Where a labour dispute has the potential to threaten the health, safety, and welfare of British Columbians, the Minister of Labour may direct the Board to designate minimum levels of service that must be maintained during a strike or lockout.

When the union and employer (the parties) are negotiating a collective agreement, they may need a neutral person to help. A mediator can help the parties reach an agreement on all or some of the terms of a collective agreement.

If a union and an employer are unable to reach a collective agreement through negotiations, they may try to resolve the impasse by asking for help from a mediator or through job action.

An employer or a trade union can ask the Board to allow the employees or a group of employers to vote on the last proposal for a collective agreement that was given to the other side.


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This page was last updated: 2021-05-14

Disclaimer: The information on this website is provided for general purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is subject to the Labour Relations Code, the Labour Relations Board Rules, the Labour Relations Regulation and the published decisions of the Board

The Labour Relations Board acknowledges the traditional territories of the many diverse Indigenous Peoples in the geographic area we serve. With gratitude and respect, we acknowledge that the Board’s office is located on the traditional unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.