For Stewards

BCGEU Stewards will want to check this page regularly for news and information on being an effective representative for your members.


January 2011 issue

The Steward


  • The perils of posting to Facebook;
  • Addictions and workplace misconduct;
  • Mitigating lost income - an update;
  • A criminal investigation at the workplace;
  • Latest arbitration award summaries.

Download the current issue of the Steward.

Click here for back issues of the printed Steward.


NEW! Download a PDF copy of the updated Steward Guide


  • BCGEU structure
  • Role of the Steward
  • Stewards' rights/duties
  • Grievance procedures
  • Tips for Stewards
  • BCGEU forms
  • ...and more


BCGEU Arbitration Awards of Interest to Stewards

Stewards may find these summaries of Arbitration Awards helpful. (Note: * indicates a new posting in this subject. Last updated: October 6, 2010)

Are you interested in becoming a Steward?

Contact your nearest Area Office.

Resources for Stewards

Employment Insurance Appeal Decisions Favourable to Workers. BCGEU Stewards may be interested in a database entitled "Employment Insurance Appeal Decisions Favourable to Workers."

The database contains a collection of Canadian Umpire decisions (CUBs) where all decisions rendered were favourable to workers.

Go to:

Once you are on the page, click on "Table of contents" at the bottom of the page.

Click here for information on union education programs.

The role of the Steward

Your worksite should have a shop steward. They are the face of the union at the worksite. The steward's role is to enforce the collective agreement and protect your rights. Your steward was elected by the members at your worksite. In many workplaces, there is more than one steward. They may represent a specific department or area. It is important to find out who your steward is should you have questions about the union or require their assistance.

A steward does not just deal with grievances and complaints at the worksite.

• They are often the liaison between the worksite and the local and the area offices.
• They sign up new members to the union at the worksite
• Encourage you to attend local meetings
• Assist you in understanding your rights under the collective agreement
• Talk to members about what is happening within the local and the union as a whole such as bargaining, educational activities.
• Ensures the union bulletin board is kept up to date
• Refers members to committees on specific issues such as the Labour Management Committee or occupational health and safety. Also refers members to union Counsellors as necessary.
• Listen to your concerns and issues.
• Can advise or refer you to the appropriate people with regards to WCB appeals, STIIP/LTD issues, Unemployment Insurance issues, and Classification Appeals.

For members and Stewards

It is important that the grievance is presented factually when filing. As a member who is filing a grievance, you need to ensure that you give as many of the facts as possible to the Steward. Here are the 6 W's to remember when filing a grievance

1. WHO: is involved? The members full name, employer, branch or division, title and job classification. Name and title of supervisors or witness's need to be accurate.

2. WHAT: happened that caused the violation? Disciplinary action? Substitution pay not given? Safety violations? You need the story of what occurred in chronological order

3. WHEN: did the violation occur? Ensure dates and times are included. Include how often and how long?

4. WHERE: did it occur? Give exact location or locations if event occurred in different places. Have pictures or drawings if applicable

5. WHY: is this considered to be a grievance or complaint? Was there a direct violation of an article(s) in the collective agreement? A violation of an Act or Code, an arbitral award, past practice issue?

6. WANT: this relates to adjustments that are required by the union to correct the injustice. Always ask for "full redress" in order to make the member whole, ie., all wages lost, file cleared, vacation returned.

What is a grievance?

A grievance is a violation of the employee's rights on the job. It is the stewards job to determine what right was violated or if the grievance is legitimate, ie., is it a complaint or an official grievance?

1. Most employees' rights are contained in the collective agreement so this is the first place you, as a member or a steward must look to see if there is a grievance. If the grievance is a clear cut violation of the contract, it will be easy to prove, provided you stick to your guns. If it is an interpretive issue, it can be more difficult. Either one though, constitutes a legitimate grievance. If it is an interpretive issue, previous arbitration cases on similar or same language will help you prepare your argument.

2. Violation of Federal or Provincial Law. Here you may be filing a grievance or dealing directly with the appropriate agency to deal with the issue, or you may do both. It may be a Health and Safety violation or Human Rights violation, both of which deal with a separate agency. Most collective agreements have specified language on this on whether a grievance is filed or not.

3. Violation of past practice in the workplace. This can be the basis for a grievance, particularly in areas where the contract is silent or unclear; where a past practice has been violated by the management, an employee may have a real grievance. But to be considered as a past practice, the circumstances must have been:

a. repeated over an extended period of time;
b. accepted explicitly or implicitly by both workers and management, e.g. by verbal agreement or in writing without either side formally objecting; or
c. while violating the contract, neither side has demanded that this part of the contract be enforced.

4. Complaints must be dealt with. If you think your rights have been violated, see your steward. He/she will do the investigation and let you know whether there has been a violation. If there hasn't, they will clearly explain why.

Types of Grievances

A steward can classify grievances according to where they come from and how they arise. We also classify grievances according to who is affected.

1. Individual grievance. A complaint that an action by management has violated the rights of an individual as set out in the collective agreement, law or some unfair practice. The steward will file the grievance and require your signature so that it can be processed. When an individual's right have been violated and they refuse to sign a grievance, the steward may still file the grievance on behalf of the union. In this way, the collective agreement is still being defended and it shows management that the union will not acquiesce. If you don't' file, it may be that the employer will continue violating the agreement, and when you finally do file, you may lose because you acquiesced.

2. Group Grievance. A complaint by a group of workers, a department, or shift, that has been affected the same way and at the same time by an action taken by management. An example would be where a shift wasn't given premium pay as per the agreement.

3. Policy grievance. A complaint by the union that an action of management, (or its failure for refusal to act) is a violation of the agreement that could affect all who are covered by the agreement. A policy grievance normally relates to the interpretation of the contract rather than the complaint of an individual. A steward often doesn't deal with this directly as often the standard grievance form is not filled out. The steward informs the staff of the union who will send a letter, stating that the issue is one of policy and that the issue will be put automatically to Step 3 or the arbitration procedure of the agreement.

4. Union grievance. This grievance involves the issue where the union's rights have been violated. The grievance would be from the union itself. An example of this is whereby the employer did not deduct union dues, or did not allow union leave to the bargaining committee.

BCGEU Steward Guide1a.pdf6.55 MB