Duty to Bargain in Good Faith

  • Definition
    Obligation under labour relations legislation to bargain in good faith with a view to reaching a collective agreement; the duty to bargain in good faith includes the obligation to recognize the other party, to meet and engage in a rational discussion of the matters in issue, and to bargain with an intention to enter into a collective agreement
  • B.C. Labour Relations Code Section 11 — Requirement to bargain in good faith
    • A trade union or employer must not fail to bargain collectively in good faith in British Columbia and to make every reasonable effort to conclude a collective agreement.
    • If a trade union and the employer have concluded a collective agreement outside British Columbia, it is invalid in British Columbia until a majority of the employees in British Columbia covered by the agreement ratify it.
  • Section 47 Collective Bargaining
    If notice to commence collective bargaining has been given

    • a. under section 45, the trade union and the employer, or
    • b. under section 46, the parties to the collective agreement
  • must, within 10 days after the date of the notice, commence to bargain collectively in good faith, and make every reasonable effort to conclude a collective agreement or a renewal or revision of it.

Determination by the LRB of whether a party has breached Section 11, Requirement to Bargain in Good Faith, has both a subjective element and an objective element.

Subjective Test

Relates to the assessment of a party's motivation. This assessment is based on the LRB's perception of the negotiating process. For example, is one party simply going through the motions of negotiations? This assessment leads to an objective test.

Objective Test

An objective analysis of the parties’ actions. This will allow the LRB to determine whether a party is making every reasonable effort to conclude a collective agreement.

Hard bargaining is not in itself a breach of the duty provided there is no evidence the employer or union is attempting to avoid reaching a collective agreement through the use of hard bargaining tactics. While the LRB will not usually examine the reasonableness of bargaining proposals, it will assess the conduct of a party to ensure that tactics have not been employed which unreasonably inhibit the process of achieving an agreement.