Challenging labour relations to continue in 2016: Report

Fiscal restraint, aging workforce major concerns for unions
||Last Updated: 01/07/2016

Another year of modest economic growth is expected to challenge the labour relations environment in 2016, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s Industrial Relations Outlook 2016.

The board released its most recent outlook on Jan. 7, predicting the public sector in particular will be constrained by an ongoing emphasis on fiscal restraint.

“Increased economic uncertainty, along with changes in technology and operating environments in the last few years have made it difficult for unions and management to develop and maintain stable relationships,” said Lynn Stoudt, vice president of leadership and human resources research for the Conference Board of Canada.

“Faced with uncertainty due to a low growth economy, both unions and management will likely tread carefully and focus on relationship-building.”

Age will also be an issue as unions attempt to strengthen relationships. According to the Outlook, Canada’s aging workforce is causing a shift in priorities for both employers and labour.

Unions will need to engage the younger generation in order to meet succession planning needs. The Conference Board of Canada predicted this will lead to the priorities of millennial workers driving demands at the bargaining table in 2016. It anticipates a greater focus on issues of flexibility and work/life balance can be expected in the coming months.

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