Weakened economy leads to labour peace in 2009

    OTTAWA, Feb. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Labour peace will reign in the overwhelming
majority of negotiations in Canada this year, given the weakness
characterizing both labour and management in bargaining, according to the
Conference Board's Industrial Relations Outlook 2009: Managing Expectations in
Uncertain Times.
    The report is based on an industrial relations roundtable discussion that
preceded the two recent high-profile strikes at OC Transpo in Ottawa and York
University in Toronto-both of which seriously affected their respective
    "These two lengthy work stoppages raise concerns about the relevance and
effectiveness of the industrial relations system today and its ability to
fully take account of all stakeholders' concerns," said Prem Benimadhu,
Vice-President, Governance and Human Resource Management. "While most
negotiations this year will likely be concluded without work stoppages, the
existing adversarial industrial relations system does not meet multiple
stakeholders' concerns."
    For the first time in several decades, both labour and management are
entering the bargaining period in a weakened state. Neither side will have an
upper hand. Corporations are feeling the adverse effects of the financial
crisis and labour has little bargaining clout in such an environment. Unions,
therefore, are focusing on sustaining membership.
    A new Conference Board survey indicates that increases in the public
sector are now projected to be 2.6 per cent, down from the previous forecast
of 3.5 per cent. In the private sector, settlements are expected to hover
around 2.9 per cent-which is also down from previous forecasts-as management
focuses on controlling labour costs. Wage concessions on the part of unions
may be part of negotiations this year in some sectors. With large numbers of
workers nearing retirement age, pensions are also a key issue for both unions
and management.

For further information:

For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, (613) 526-3090
ext. 448, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca

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