Industrial and Labour Relations Strategy for Operations

Optimize Employee Relations in a Unionized Environment

We develop strategy to guide the management of all key industrial relationships, including the unions, to mitigate against risks to the business.

The obvious risks are related to work disruptions. However we help identify other risks including the impact a collective bargaining relationship can have on operational flexibility and competitive advantage. We create strategies that diminish any risks to the business’s reputation, market share and importantly risks to its brand.

For non-union organizations and in situations where the workforce is considering union representation, our strategists have significant experience ensuring that employees are well-informed about the realities of unionization in a modern competitive businesses. We will ensure that management’s voice is heard and that employees understand the consequences of unionization before they make a decision to relinquish their individual control over their employment arrangements.

We work with non union organizations to establish employee relations substitution strategies, create ongoing programs to maintain healthy direct employee relations.

We go beyond the traditional labour relations focuses to examine all aspects of organizational culture including the business strategy, leadership, organizational policies, supervisory skills, corporate citizenship, reputation in the marketplace and communications.

We have experience in dealing with every major union in Canada. In addition we understand Workplace Safety and WSIB/WCB claims management, First Nations Impact and Benefits Agreements. Performance Management and organizational accountabilities and authorities in union environments.

There is substantial waste that is often never identified in a work environment that has any level of mistrust. Identifying the cause of mistrust and rectifying the source issues is what we can help you do.

When you are forced into disputes it leaves little time to address running the business. We have an excellent track record in finding approaches that eliminate waste and engage all stakeholders, including employees, unions, community leaders and special interest groups.

We have skilled facilitators who can deliver supervisory training, conduct strategy planning sessions and develop complete employee relations programs.

Specific Labour Relations Services:

  • Labour Strategy Workshops for Senior Management
  • Labour Department Reviews and Support
  • Facilitated Bargaining Preparation and Chief Negotiator Support
  • Management and Supervisory Training
  • Retainer based regular phone advice and consultation services (disputes, employee performance management etc.)
  • Labour Studies (e.g. wage analysis) and Reports (e.g. Labour Market)

“As the President and CEO at Knowledge First Financial (formerly USC Education Savings Plans Inc.) I worked with one of Oakbridges’ strategists to develop and implement a strategy for our first contract bargaining with the Steelworkers for our call-centre. It was a complex issue and a difficult time as we were contemplating outsourcing our CSR function. We were told it could not be done with the union. In the end Oakbridges did what other consultants told us was impossible. They helped us to work with the union and to develop an outcome that allowed the company to complete the outsourcing program, save several million dollars in operating costs and complete the outsourcing project without creating animosity with the union.”

Michael Geraghty
CEO, Knowledge First Financial

“I engaged Oakbridges on a number of occasions to assist me with thinking outside the box in our power sector client LR environment.   We needed to shift our gears and define new approaches to our high cost labour resources in an increasingly competitive market.  In a global IT services market, providing high quality service at the right global price point is an absolute necessity.

Our unions engaged in sophisticated multi-employer bargaining and although often pragmatic in their approach these unions tended to default to more traditional collective agreements.  Traditional bargaining did not provide the break-through cost reductions our large clients wanted us to achieve in order to give them yearly reductions in our MSA pricing.      Oakbridges was very helpful to me in this regard as I took steps to redefine our Labour Relations strategy.   It was insightful to have experts from Oakbridges with whom I could exchange and refine ‘off-the-wall’ ideas.  They helped me to challenge and validate my thinking for a new go-forward LR strategy.  Results matter.  My stakeholders and I are very pleased at the outcomes we have achieved in recent years to greatly transform the price of our union resources.”

Peter Watson
Director HR and LR, Cap Gemini