Legal News

Community Services Labour Relations Act Introduced

Bill 61, the Community Services Labour Relations Act, introduced May 14, 2003 streamlines the labour relations structure of social service agencies.The new structure will have a single association of unions, a single employers’ bargaining agent, and three bargaining units. The bargaining units will be composed of members working in the areas of community living, aboriginal services and general services. The latter service area includes child and family services, women’s services and other social services. Prior to the Bill, the social services labour relations structure had 13 separate unions and more than 200 bargaining units. The effect of the new legislation on employers is that collective bargaining is streamlined. This should reduce leap frogging and allow employers to address global concerns. Employers will no longer bargain individual collective agreements but will be governed by the terms of an industry agreement negotiated by the Community Social Services’ Employers’ Association (CSSEA) on behalf of its member employers.

The following is a summary of the changes introduced by Bill 61:

  • Employers’ Bargaining Agent – Bill 61 deems CSSEA to be the single employers’ bargaining agent
  • Bargaining Units – Establishes 3 separate bargaining units: community living, aboriginal services and general services, which includes child and family services, womens’ services and other social services.
  • For the purpose of collective bargaining, the Lieutenant Governor in Council retains discretion to establish a separate bargaining unit representing all unionized employees of agencies that are members of CSSEA.
  • Association of Unions – The new Bill establishes a single association of trade unions. The articles of association of the new association of unions are subject to approval by B.C.’s Labour Relations Board
  • Vote for One Union –If it is apparent that the delivery of community social services generally would be improved and the public interest better served, the Minister of Skills Development and Labour may direct the Labour Relations Board to conduct a vote to decide which union will represent all employees in the respective bargaining units.
  • Use of Volunteers and Family Home Providers – A collective agreement under the new Bill must not directly or indirectly prevent:
    • An agency from using volunteers provided the use of volunteers does not result in the lay-off of an employee
    • The government or an agency from entering into a contract with a family home provider.

Labour relations matters addressed:

  • A collective agreement to which the government is a party is not binding and s. 35 of the Labour Relations Code does not apply to an agency that contracts with the government.

  • A person is not an employee of government unless that person is fully integrated into governmental operations, control and direction.

  • The Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Actapplies to an agency whose employees are represented by a trade union whether or not that agency is a member of CSSEA.

  • The minister may withhold a grant or amount payable to an agency under a contract with the government if the agency’s operating expenses are reduced during a strike or lockout.

  • The minister may direct an audit to determine the amount of reduction in operating expenses as a result of a strike or lockout.

  • The Labour Relations Code applies to government and agencies but if there is conflict or inconsistency, Bill 61 applies.

  • The Labour Relations Board has exclusive jurisdiction to decide a question arising under this Act.