Legal Strikes and Illegal Strikes Under Labor Law

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Q1. Legal strikes and illegal strikes are dramatically different in terms of how they are viewed in Labour Law. Discuss. (5 marks)
Section 1 (1) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 defines “a strike as a cessation of work, a refusal to work or to continue to work by employees in combination or in concert or in accordance with a common understanding, or a slow-down or other concerted activity on the part of employees designed to restrict or limit output”. According to the “Labour Relations Act, 1995” the strikes are legal only if some preconditions are met such as the collective agreement must have expired, a strike vote must have been held and 50% of the members are in favour of the strike, and a conciliation officer must have been appointed. All the employees covered under Labour Relations Act, 1995 are not lawfully permitted to strike e.g. hospitals, and nursing homes and Toronto Transit Commission do not have the right to strike. Some departments like fire fighters and police are not subject to the above-discussed law and have their own legislations.

If a union is not adhering the law the strike can be charged as illegal and the participants are subject to discipline. The employer can request the board for cease immediately and if the orders are disobeyed, court injunction can occur. The breech of court orders can result in fines and jail sentences and employers can also sue the individuals or unions for the damages. The union leaders can be charged and held responsible for the consequences of the strike. Considering the differences of legal and illegal strike, as defined above by law, it can be argued that legal strikes and illegal strikes are dramatically different in terms of how they are viewed in Labour Law.

Question 2: How should Bob begin to address this situation? (5 marks)
Bob Graham a newly appointed Labour Relation Manager has been directed by the management to get rid of the chief union steward Peter who is known for absenteeism (missed over 100 shifts), coming late to work (53 times), do not advise his supervisor about being absent (25 occasions), low performance at work, breath smells of alcohol on a regular basis (serious infraction), unpredictable mood swings and disruptive behavior to entire workforce. The complaints have been made by the employees to the management about Peter’s absenteeism, attitude and performance but all in vain. Employees who habitually absent from work or come late are subject to discipline. Absenteeism in the plant averages six shifts a year whereas, Peter has missed one hundred shifts which is way more than the plant average therefore should be subject to discipline with a series of warnings and ultimately should be discharged. Although there are several concrete evidences and complaints about Peter’s misconduct at the workplace, his disciplinary record is clear. The reason for this, described in the case study, is very obvious, management views Peter as someone to fear, as the company occurred a hefty financial loss as a result of a successful illegal strike lead by him.

Bob is in a very critical position as he is new to the organization and that there is no record of Peter’s misconduct at the workplace. He has not been issued any verbal or written warnings. Therefore he should be very careful in whatever actions he take against Peter. He should start an official, fair and objective investigation against Peter and should involve other senior management members too. The major issue faced by Bob is that apart from the clear evidences of Peter’s misconduct in the workplace there are no disciplinary reports against him. Bob should first develop a relationship of trust with the employees in the organization as a credible HR manager. Bod in normal situation would consult union steward and Peter’s immediate supervisor to discuss the issue. As Peter is the union steward, it can be hard for him to involve union effectively. Therefore he should keep the evidences like...
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