Can Government Workplaces Be Made World-Class?
Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal, Vol. 9, pp. 335-359, 2002
25 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2010 Last revised: 4 Apr 2010
Citing empirical evidence drawn from an extensive survey of managers in the federal jurisdiction and in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Manitoba, the authors report major shifts in the organization of work in Canadian government workplaces, marked by the widespread adoption of innovative practices. The same survey indicates that unions have had little involvement in the restructuring process, a fact which is attributable to the largely adversarial nature of labour-management relations in the 1990s, a highly centralized paradigm of collective bargaining, and the resistance of union leaders to change. As the authors note, however, attempts to introduce innovations are not sustainable without meaningful union participation. In the second part of the paper, the authors assess whether the recommendations of the Fryer Committee, if implemented, would foster the adoption of innovative practices and enhance the productivity of government workplaces. Many of the Committee’s proposals, in their view, are likely to eliminate unnecessary barriers to interaction between labour and management, promote cooperative problem-solving and communication, and streamline needlessly complex dispute-resolution and industrial relations procedures. The authors conclude, however, that the recommendations do not go far enough, and they are critical of the Committee’s failure to address concretely the government’s tendency to exploit its dual role as employer and legislator by interfering in collective bargaining disputes.
Keywords: labor relations, public sector, new public management, labor law
JEL Classification: J5, J50, J52, J53, J58, K3, K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation