The 'new normal' looks like modest expectations in collective bargaining

OTTAWA – The Conference Board of Canada is predicting a “new normal” in collective bargaining in which modest expectations match modest economic prospects.

The board says in its Industrial Relations Outlook 2013 that the bargaining climate has fundamentally changed.

As a result, it expects average base wage increases for unionized workers next year will rise just 1.8 per cent in the public sector and 2.1 per cent in the private sector.

The Conference Board says the “new normal” has existed since 2009, but Canadians are only now realizing that there won’t soon be a return to the buoyant growth enjoyed before the recession.

The board says modest economic prospects matched by modest expectations may encourage pragmatism rather than rhetoric at the bargaining table.

It also says the Canadian and global economies face a period of slow near-term growth.