Workforce Relations

Dispute Resolution


From time to time, the employer and employee/union may disagree over how a policy or collective agreement article has been applied or how disciplinary action has been imposed. If this is the case, there are a variety of means by which employees/unions and employers may resolve these disputes, examples include:

  • Informal resolutions including communication between parties to clarify why certain actions were taken
  • More formal resolution, such as grievance, arbitration or mediation.

How Employee & Labour Relations Assists

The Employee & Labour Relations Branch supports the dispute resolution process by representing the Manitoba government and Manitoba government departments at all levels of dispute resolution, whether by providing support to human resources throughout the process or by taking the lead in representing the employer at grievances, arbitrations or mediations. Employee & Labour Relations will collect and review evidence, meet with witnesses, and present cases to mediators or arbitrators.

Policy/Legislation (Authority)

Collective Agreements commonly contain provisions relating to grievance and arbitration processes (ex. Government Employees' Master Agreement Article 49 and 50).

Top Manitoba Public Service Employee Questions

A grievance is a written complaint concerning the application, interpretation, or alleged violation of a collective agreement article, policy and/or disciplinary action imposed for unionized employees. Union representatives are responsible for filing on behalf of their members. After a grievance is filed, grievances are heard internally by the employer and a decision is made whether or not there has been a violation.

If the filing of the grievance and the hearing does not resolve the dispute, the parties may decide that the matter should proceed to arbitration to resolve the dispute. An arbitration is a formal process where an external decision maker, called an arbitrator, is selected by both parties to hear the dispute. This process, similar to a court appearance, involves each side calling witnesses and presenting evidence. The arbitrator will hear and review the evidence and make a decision on whether or not there has been a violation of the collective agreement. An arbitrator may also impose a resolution on the parties and make an award.

The parties may decide that the best method to resolve their dispute is by mediation. Mediation is less formal than arbitration and involves the parties selecting a third party, called a mediator, who will meet either individually or together with both parties to hear each side. The mediator will then help the parties to work together to achieve a resolution. Sometimes, if the parties are unable to reach a resolution to the dispute with the mediator's assistance, the mediator will impose a decision on the parties.

Collective Agreements specify the process for dispute resolution. You should review your collective agreement or consult with your union representation to learn more about your options and any processes that might be specified.

Counselling support for Manitoba public service employees and their immediate family members is available through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Further information is available online, through management, HR, your union or by contacting EFAP directly at 204-945-5786 (Winnipeg) or toll free at 1-866-669-4916 (Toll Free) or via email at

There are a number of other avenues where an employee can make a complaint. Represented employees may speak to their union for further clarification. They include, but are not limited to the following:

Internal Complaint Avenues for Manitoba public service employees:

  • Immediate supervisor or any level of management
  • Human Resources (Manitoba government intranet access required or call 204-945-2332 to obtain this contact information)
  • The Investigations Unit (IU) - The IU reviews all inappropriate conduct complaints and triages the complaint as required (ex. leading the investigation, assigning HR to investigate, or taking non-investigation action).
  • Respectful Workplace Advisor – The Respectful Workplace Advisor works in consultation with human resources to assist with the assessment, intervention and resolution processes related to respectful workplace, discrimination, harassment. The Respectful Workplace Advisor can be reached at 204-945-2077 or
  • The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (PIDA) is legislations that also facilitates the disclosure and investigation of wrongdoing, in or relating to public bodies, and protects employees who make disclosures. Further information about PIDA is contained here.

Other Complaint Avenues (not just for Manitoba public service employees)

  • The Manitoba Human Rights Commission: Receives complaints relating to discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics under The Manitoba Human Rights Code where not already covered by a Collective Agreement.
  • SAFE Work Manitoba: Promotes workplace safety and health for employees and employers across Manitoba.
  • Manitoba Ombudsman: Investigates complaints about access to information and privacy matters, the fairness of government actions or decisions or serious "wrongdoings" that may have occurred. A wrongdoing is a very serious act or omission that is an offence under another law; that creates a specific and substantial danger to the life, health, or safety of persons or the environment; or gross mismanagement, including mismanagement of public funds or a public asset.

Also for non-represented employees internal processes have been established to ensure accountability of decision-making and for the resolution of disputes regarding classification and selection matters:

  • Classification Policy. A non-represented employee who is adversely impacted by a classification decision may follow the process outlined in this Policy.
  • Talent Acquisition Policy. A non-represented employee who is unsuccessful in a job competition may request reasons for non-selection from the selection board chair in accordance with the Policy.

  • Note: The Commission Board remains responsible for the adjudication of any appeals filed prior to February 26, 2022.

Additional Resources and Training

Contact Information  

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