The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board: A Functional Analysis
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The purpose of this thesis is to examine how the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board functions as an administrative agency. After describing how the Board originated, I will outline how it is empowered and constituted to facilitate collective bargaining by organized employees in this province, and the procedures it has formulated within the legislative guidelines. An assessment will then be made of the processes involved in Board decision-making and of the extent to which the Board has accommodated the interests of the parties who appear before it. Board hearings essentially observe the adversary process, which enjoys both support and criticism, but which could be effectively augmented by a number of informal procedures. The informal decision making process is governed by both precedent and common sense, and the very fact that it is not inhibited by extensive published guidelines provides considerable latitude for the exercise of discretion, and for free exchange among Board members. The recent restraint exercised by the Court of Appeal in reversing the Board seems to vindicate this approach. There is a greater preoccupation among members with seeing that justice is done rather than that their constituents are satisfied. On the face of it, there could be a conflict between the desire of the Board to accommodate the parties on the one hand and to expedite matters on the other. A closer look, however, reveals that the Board is core often than not serving the higher needs of industrial relations rather than the immediate needs of some parties. The extent to which the Board observes legal niceties depends largely upon the parties involved, as well as the need to expedite matters. Over the time period under observation, the Board has begun to make more efficient use of its time without seeming to sacrifice anyone's interests. If there is a criticism to be made, it is that the Board has not been accessible to the parties. That is changing in the day to day context, through the use of the Executive Officer, but the Board also has a history of isolating itself from the parties in so far as policy-making is concerned. Criticism is generally ignored, and advice is seldom,if ever, sought. In this regard, some suggestions are offered for consideration. As an administrative agency, the Board has gone a long way towards providing the speedy, efficient, inexpensive and specialized decision-making envisioned for it. Under its new Chairman, it is pointed in the direction of greater efficiency and accessibility.