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    Between employment issues, the labour market transformation, and the social and legal responsibility of employers, this issue will invite you to question several principles of industrial relations.

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Le tribunal du travail

Le tribunal du travail

André Rousseau

Volume : 25-2 (1970)


The Labour Court

The Province of Quebec has launched a major experiment by creating a Labour Court, constituted by Bill 50 (as revised by Bill 65). The Court's jurisdiction was defined by these two measures and is set out in Section 103 of the Quebec Labour Code.

The whole area of labour relations is marked increasingly by a collective approach, emphasizing collective bargaining. On the other hand, the Civil Code still prevails and civil courts remain the main recourse for non-unionized workers. The latter cannot take advantage of the new legislation, which protects only those who are in, or covered by labour organizations.

Even in union-organized sectors, we still note the necessity to maintain some recourse to common law tribunals; such recourse, dealing with the individual contract of employment and violations of criminal and statutory laws, is the only one available to workers in marginal and unorganized sectors, who still make up the majority of our labour force.

This paper proposes the creation of a Labour Court that would replace all the present dispute settlement procedures. This body would be competent to hear and decide : civil action between workers and employers; civil and criminal cases under statutory legislation in labour matters; injunctions and special writs in the field of labour law; action now before the labour Court; arbitration of disputes and grievances.

A Labour Court, under this very broad concept, would offer the following advantages: single and integrated jurisdiction, intervention by the interested parties, settlement at a higher level, uniform, rules of interpretation, of evidence and procedure, and easier access to all workers anxious to use its facilities.

We realize that such a proposal and such a transformation in our institutional structure would not be easy. The main objections to be encountered would appear to be : the fact that our economic and institutional structures are oriented towards the entreprise; the need for human resources, in order to provide all the specialistsrequired by such a Labour Court; the statuory character of the Court, as against a contractual type of machinery which might be preferred by the parties; the lack, at the present time, of a unified body of laws, in the field of labour relations; the low industrial concentration, inview of the number of Courts to be created.

In conclusion, the principal advantage stressed is the possibility, through such a Labour Court, of changing the scope and level of decision-making. At the present time, the approach to labour problems is very specific and loealized; the presence of the parties and the vast jurisdiction of a Labour Court would make it possible to take into consideration the problems of an entire industry, union or economic sector.