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Le rapport Woods et le rapport Donovan

Jean-Charles Bonenfant


À l'occasion de la publication du rapport Woods, l'article rappelle que quelques mois auparavant, en Grande-Bretagne une commission royale, la Commission Donovan, a rendu public un rapport analogue sur les relations du travail. Dans une seconde partie, le problème même des enquêtes est étudié pour en apprécier les inconvénients et les avantages.


The Woods and Donovan Reports

There is a great deal of similarity between the Report of the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and Employers' Association under the chairmanship of Lord Donovan published in the United Kingdom in June 1968 and the Report of Task Force on Labour Relations under the chairmanship of Dean H.D. Woods issued by the Privy Council Office at the end of 1968. There are also some differences in the process.

Appointed in February 1965, The Donovan Commission with its twelve members representing many fields of interest and with the aid of competent researchers has accomplished a great and effective work. According to its mandate, it was "to consider relations between managements and employees and the role of trade unions and employers' associations in promoting the interests of their members and in accelerating the social and economic advance of the nation, with particular reference to the law affecting the activities of these bodies". The Report underlines the fact that Britain had two systems of industrial relations, the first and formal one embodied in official institutions, and the other one, the informal, created by the actual behaviour of trade unions and employers. This is the explanation of many illegal strikes. So the Report recommended the reform of collective bargaining by industry-wide negotiations and agreements. It recommended also an Industrial Relations Commission to investigate labour difficulties, and the creation of labour tribunals to hear complaints of breach of contract. It recommended a better structure of trade unions with "one union for one grade of work within one factory" and a less exclusive membership in the Confederation of British Industries.

Only a few of the recommendations of the Report have been implemented but many reactions by industrial and labor organisations and by the Wilson Government have proved the usefulness of the inquiry. The many research papers which have been published are also very precious.

In the second part, the inquiries are studied by themselves. Canada has the reputation of using the process lavishly. As it has been said, the national creed is : "As it was in the beginning, is now and if we are going to make any changes we will appoint a Royal Commission to tell us how it is to be done". For the government, inquiries are sometimes a way of procrastination and for the judges appointed to chair them it was perhaps a dangerous derogation to their independence but in general they appear to be a scientific approach in fields where up to recent years, intuition only was used. People find that inquiries are expensive : so it will be a good policy in Canada to act as they do in the United Kingdom where the cost of everything is given with the publication of the Report. Inquiries are also useful as a kind of travelling universities helping the diffusion and the discussion of various and opposite ideas. So members of legislative houses are tempted to improve their reputation by initiating them, but they will remain mostly the task and the projection of the executive branch.