What is a grievance?


A grievance is a formal complaint usually lodged by the union alleging a misinterpretation or improper application of one or more terms in a collective agreement.


The method for dealing with grievances is through a grievance procedure set out in the collective agreement. If a grievance cannot be settled through discussions between the union and the employer, it is sent to arbitration. Arbitration is very much like going to court.


The “judge”, called an arbitrator, hears both sides of the case through evidence presented by the union, by the employer, and through witnesses. When both sides have completed their cases, the arbitrator renders a decision based on the evidence, the collective agreement, the law, and previous decisions in similar cases.

Can I file a grievance at any time?


Unfortunately, no. A grievance must be filed:

  • within 30 working days of the incident that results in the grievance;


  • or within 30 working days of the date the incident leading to the grievance is noted.


In the latter case, the union or the grievor may have to prove that the delay in filing is justified. In other words, the grievor must have proof that the information leading to the grievance only come to light within the 30 working days leading up to the filing of the grievance.


Grievances filed outside of these delays will automatically be rejected.