Conflict and Complaint Management Service Centres help with conflict resolution
Earlier this year, the network of Conflict and Complaint Management Service (CCMS) centres became fully operational. The 16 offices spread across the country are run as part of the Integrated Conflict and Complaint Management (ICCM) program.
The agents in CCMS offices offer guidance to Defence Team members dealing with a workplace conflict or complaint. Agents are trained to identify and offer advice on a wide range of issues including harassment, human rights complaints, grievances and workplace disputes.
“These offices are definitely meeting a need and they’ve already shown their value,” says Colonel Daniel Rivière, ICCM’s Director of Service Delivery. “People were eager to contact us and the phone was ringing at some offices even before they had officially opened.”
Members of the Defence Team are encouraged to stop by a CCMS centre and connect with an agent to ask about the services they offer. Members can also learn about the program online on the ICCM web page.
Independent expertise, confidential advice
CCMS offices are typically comprised of three staff—two civilians and one military member. All conversations with CCMS agents are confidential. These interactions are outside the chain-of-command, and can help members evaluate their issues, understand their rights, and select the best option given their circumstances.
“If you think you have a complaint, you should always consider talking about it with your chain-of-command,” suggests Captain (Navy) William Quinn, Director, Canadian Forces Grievance Authority. “If for whatever reason you’re uncomfortable doing that, then come have a chat with an independent CCMS agent. They’re there to bounce off ideas, answer questions, and offer their best advice and guidance.”
From problems related to moves and postings, to unfair treatment from superiors, to harassment complaints, agents are trained to assist with many types of files.
Agents also have access to a network of peers across the country, so they can quickly get updates on policy changes or pending decisions that impact the organization. Such coordination has never existed before in DND/CAF, and it will often help members save time and avoid frustration.
Assistance in understanding your options
In any complaint- or conflict-management scenario, the preferred option is usually to resolve the issue early, locally and informally, in cooperation with the chain-of-command. When this option cannot apply, CCMS agents will help members consider the alternatives.
“These offices have allowed the Forces to push help as close to the members as possible in order to answer questions quickly,” explains Capt(N) Quinn. “We want to help members take the right steps based on their situation, so that issues can get resolved as quickly as possible.”
CCMS agents will never compel a member to follow a particular course-of-action, nor will they advocate on behalf of a member. Rather, they will help identify problems, explain the options available, and offer recommendations. Members are under no obligation to accept the advice provided to them, and will remain involved in all steps of their case.
Sometimes it may not be clear whether a case is a harassment issue, a human rights violation, or another type of dispute. Agents can help members understand the nuances of a scenario, and select a path that suits their needs.
“For instance, if we believe there has been violence, or harmful or inappropriate sexual behavior, we’d recommend that the member submit a formal complaint as per the instructions under Operation HONOUR. Members’ interests are paramount, and the CCMS agent will assist in finding a course-of-action that meets the member’s needs and fully addresses the situation,” notes Col Rivière.
A service available to all
CCMS offices are located on bases across the country and are easily accessible. Services are available to Regular and Reserve Force members, including those posted outside of Canada, as well as DND employees.
For any member who does not work near a CCMS office but who wishes to connect with an agent, there is the option to call, e-mail or write a letter. Depending on the circumstances, an agent may be able to meet at a different location.
Briefings are also available to members preparing to deploy on operations, and services are available to them throughout their tour abroad.
A member came to a CCMS office to submit an already-drafted grievance regarding the refusal of a posting cancellation request. After listening to the member’s side of the story, the CCMS agent determined key details were missing to fully understand the situation. The agent requested a 48-hour delay from the member, in order to engage the unit adjutant. As it turns out, the adjutant was not aware of the situation, and meetings were held with key persons to help the member obtain further information regarding the context of the decision. The clarification avoided the filing of a grievance, and helped the member understand the rationale behind the initial decision. In the end, the posting was postponed only by a few months to allow for a surgery, resulting in the member’s quick return to work without limitations.
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