Conciliation and arbitration

"Conciliation and arbitration are means of intervening into the negotiating process which may assist the two parties to resolve a dispute or failure to agree, but while conciliation is an assisted continuation of negotiations, arbitration involves the imposition of a binding award."


Essentially, conciliation is voluntary.

Whilst there is a legal requirement under the Industrial Relations Act for unions to report a matter to the Minister of Labour, when the Ministry organises a conciliation meeting, there is no legal requirement on an employer to attend and no penalties or not attending. Whether the parties can agree on a settlement is entirely a matter for the parties and both are free to agree or not agree. That is the essence of conciliation - it is voluntary.


The distinction between conciliation and arbitration is that, whilst conciliation is voluntary, arbitration allows a third party (in this case the Industrial Court) to impose a solution. So once a matter is determined by the Industrial Court then it will decide the outcome of the dispute and both parties are bound by it (subject to appeal on a point of law only).