First Contract Arbitration

The Construction Association of Nova Scotia (CANS) believes Minister Regan’s announcement today amending Bill 102 is delivering on a pre-election promise and is a step in bringing the certification and first contract negotiation process back in to balance. Minister Regan introduced amendments to the Trade Union Act that will ensure the Labour Board can only impose a first agreement if it determines there was bad faith bargaining.

“CANS has always supported the long-established principles and practices of businesses and their employees engaging in free collective bargaining,” says Duncan Williams, CANS President. “While ultimately we would have liked to see the Bill repealed, today’s announcement helps bring that process back in to balance.”

“CANS’ position on First Contract Arbitration, one shared by many industry groups in Nova Scotia, is that its introduction was unnecessary and disrespectful to long standing labour relations best practices,” adds Williams. “Further, its aggressive nature was a potential deterrent to potential business investment in our province.”

“It also introduced unrealistic levels of uncertainty that businesses could view as significant exposure to uncontrollable risk,” adds Williams. “Today’s amendments will remove much of that uncertainty.”

“Currently parties do not have to prove that anyone is bargaining in bad faith and can simply run out the clock,” says Williams. “This is not in the spirit of true collective bargaining and does not encourage true negotiation and communication between parties.” In a pre-election survey CANS questioned each Party on the issue of First Contract Arbitration, the Liberal Party response was: A Liberal government will amend First Contract Arbitration legislation to ensure that parties have to prove that one party is bargaining in bad faith in order to go to arbitration.

“We are happy to see that this administration keep their election promise to amend First Contract Arbitration,” says Williams. “With these amendments Nova Scotia’s legislation is brought more in line with the federal government and other provinces.”

The amendments also remove the 120 day timeline and the Labour Board can choose to allow parties to continue to bargain, allow a strike or lockout, order more conciliation, or impose a contract.

“These amendments place far more obligation on each party to reach first contract before a third party arbitrator – potentially unfamiliar with the industry and a given firm’s structure – imposes a contract.”

CANS represents more than 760 large and small companies that build, renovate and restore non-residential buildings, roads, bridges and other engineering projects. We are an industry trade association representing the interests of contractors, suppliers and service providers throughout Atlantic Canada and across the country. Construction is a $2.8 billion a year industry in Nova Scotia and employs nearly 30,000 men and women from across the province.



For more information contact:

Janet Tobin
Communications and Marketing Lead
Construction Association of Nova Scotia
Ph: (902) 468.2267 x. 713
Cell: (902) 818-0835