Collective Bargaining

The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) is responsible for administering the collective bargaining regimes within the federal public service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Parliament that are covered by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA) and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act (PESRA). The FPSLREB also administers the collective bargaining regimes covered by the Yukon Education Labour Relations Act and the Yukon Public Service Labour Relations Act. When the FPSLREB performs its functions under Yukon legislation, it acts as the Yukon Public Service Labour Relations Board and the Yukon Teachers Labour Relations Board, respectively.

The FPSLREB provides services that facilitate the resolution of disputes that arise in the context of collective bargaining. In that role, the FPSLREB also receives and processes applications and documents related to arbitration and conciliation processes. The FPSLREB also provides information on the status of collective bargaining. You can search for current information by employer or bargaining agent.


Approximately 200 000 employees in 100 bargaining units are covered by the collective bargaining and other provisions of the FPSLRA. That Act provides a choice of two methods for resolving collective bargaining disputes, arbitration or conciliation (see sections 103 and 104 of the FPSLRA).

Conciliation recognizes that employees in a bargaining unit have the right to strike under certain conditions, which is why it is often termed the “conciliation/strike route”. A bargaining agent may choose arbitration or conciliation to resolve disputes that could arise during collective bargaining for a bargaining unit. The bargaining agent can change its choice from one bargaining round to the next, prior to serving notice to bargain.


Regardless of the dispute resolution method the bargaining agent chose, the parties may request a mediator to help them with their negotiations (see section 108 of the FPSLRA). At any time, if requested or on his or her initiative, the FPSLREB’s chairperson may appoint a mediator to confer with the parties and to reach a settlement.


If the bargaining agent chose arbitration as the dispute resolution method, either party may, after having bargained in good faith without reaching a collective agreement, request that an arbitration board be established. The FPSLREB’s chairperson establishes the arbitration board, which will consist of either one person or a panel of three. The FPSLREB’s chairperson must inform the arbitration board in writing of the matters in dispute that it must determine. In most cases, the parties will have agreed beforehand to many terms and conditions of employment before resorting to arbitration.

When conducting proceedings and rendering its decision, an arbitration board must consider a number of factors, including; recruitment and retention; the conditions of employment in similar occupations in both the public and private sectors; the need to maintain appropriate relationships between classification levels in the public service; ,establishing compensation levels that are fair and reasonable in relation to the work; and the state of the Canadian economy and of the government’s fiscal circumstances. An arbitral award is binding on the employer, the bargaining agent, and the employees in the bargaining unit and forms a supplement to the collective agreement.


Where the bargaining agent’s choice of dispute resolution is “conciliation/strike”, either party may request the establishment of a public interest commission (PIC) after having bargaining in good faith without reaching a collective agreement. The Minister then may establish a PIC on the FPSLREB chairperson’s recommendation. A PIC could be composed of one person or a panel of three. Its chairperson is selected from a list of candidates that the FPSLREB’s chairperson has prepared following consultation with the parties. Within 30 days of being established, the PIC must submit its recommendations to the FPSLREB’s chairperson, who will then make the report public. The factors to be considered by a PIC, in making its report, are identical to those factors to be considered by an arbitration board.

If the PIC’s recommendations do not bring about a settlement to the dispute, the FPSLRA requires that several criteria be met before the bargaining agent acquires the legal right to strike. Among those criteria are the determination of an essential services agreement and the conduct of a secret-ballot strike vote in which all employees in the bargaining unit have the right to participate. The bargaining agent may authorize or declare a strike only within the 60 days following the vote, provided it received the support of the majority of the employees in the bargaining unit.


As for the PESRA, it provides arbitration as the only method to resolve collective bargaining disputes. Parliamentary employees do not have the right to strike. After having bargained in good faith without reaching a collective agreement, either party may also request the assistance of a mediator under section 40 of the PESRA. In response, the FPSLREB’s chairperson may appoint a mediator to assist the parties in trying to reach a settlement.

Interest-Based Bargaining Training

As part of its mandate to support the parties in collective bargaining, the Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) team offers specialized training in interest-based bargaining to parties involved in negotiations. Upon receiving joint requests from the parties, the FPSLREB staff will work with representatives of the Bargaining Agent and Employer to design and deliver training tailored to their specific requirements. Requests can be made by contacting the Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services (MDRS) of the FPSLREB.