Canadian Labour Reporter

July 3, 2017

Canadian Labour Reporter is the trusted source of information for labour relations professionals. Published weekly, it features news, details on collective agreements and arbitration summaries to help you stay on top of the changing landscape.

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6 Canadian HR Reporter, a Thomson Reuters business 2017 ARBITRATION AWARDS July 3, 2017 Canada's corporate intranet. Part of the page sent was known as the regular plan and it included "mortgage interest differential plan (MID)" and "market locality differential plan (MLD)" details. It allowed employees to claim for the differences when being moved to a housing market with higher costs of living. The link also referred to the business transformation plan "to support employees who must move to take up a new position under a business transformation initiative" which also covered cer- tain moving expenses for employ- ees but didn't include the MID or MLD plans. On Jan. 17, Sharkawy told a union representative that the maximum a technician could claim was $25,000 for moving ex- penses. The representative even- tually sent a link to Verge about the regular plan and it was as- sumed he would be covered under that plan. During a Feb. 10 conference call, Verge was advised that he was being covered under the business transformation plan, not the regu- lar plan, and he could not claim for MID or MLD expenses. After signing off on the move and requesting moving expenses coverage, Verge and the union, Unifor, Local 46, filed a grievance. They claimed the collective agree- ment allowed reimbursement "in accordance with company prac- tices" which would allow him to claim for the market differential expenses. Retired employee Paul Cam- bridge testified Bell paid him about $28,000 to $30,000 over a five-year period when he was moved from Sarnia, Ont., to Lon- don and incurred higher housing costs transferring to a more ex- pensive real estate market. It was identified as "market lo- cality diff " on his paystubs. The union also argued the business transformation plan applied to workers in a "new position" which Verge clearly wouldn't hold, because he would be doing the same job but in a new location. Arbitrator Gordon Lubor- sky dismissed the grievance. "The company's decision to limit Verge's reimbursement for mov- ing expenses to those stipulated in the business transformation plan did not violate the collective agreement." "Nor was it contrary to the principles of fair administration of the substantive contractual ob- ligations under article 22.09, and consequently it was not 'unfair', 'unreasonable', 'arbitrary' or 'dis- criminatory' for the company to exercise its negotiated rights in the manner that it did in the cir- cumstances of this case, as much as that will have, regrettably, occa- sioned significant financial hard- ship to Verge," said Luborsky. The decision to compensate Verge under the business trans- formation plan, instead of the reg- ular plan was warranted, accord- ing to Luborsky. "It is clear on the evidence be- fore me that the requirement for the move in office locations was caused by a 'business transforma- tion initiative' in the sense that the company determined to close the London office and consolidate and move the work from that of- fice to other appropriate locations in Ontario for legitimate business reasons that it was entitled to do under the terms of the collective agreement." And the testimony provided by Cambridge was discounted. "From this singular event, I am asked by the union to infer a com- pany practice of paying at least the MLD benefit for employees in Verge's situation, which may be worth many tens of thousands of dollars to Verge over a five-year period," said Luborsky. Reference: Bell Canada and Unifor, Local 46. Gordon Luborsky — arbitrator. Evan VanDyk for the employer. Melissa Kronick for the employee. May 16, 2017. B.C. sawmill worker terminated for ongoing defiance AFTER management changes in a B.C. sawmill, a labourer behaved in an insubordinate manner to- wards his superiors. Mander Sohal began working at the Interfor sawmill in Surrey- Delta, B.C., in 1998 in a variety of different positions. He filed a human rights complaint in 2008 against the company's personal protective equipment policy, which mandated all workers must wear a hard hat. As a Sikh, Sohal wore a turban that made it difficult to properly fit the hardhat over it. As part of the settlement, the company cre- ated a receiver utility position so Sohal could continue working without a helmet. In his new position, Sohal was required to "clean-up or perform other duties as required," accord- ing to the job description. Chad Eisner, mill manager, started in March 2015 and deter- mined changes had to be made with respect to Sohal's respon- sibilities. He claimed that 90 per cent of the worked Sohal per- formed was not meaningful. Eisner also felt the mill's safety record needed to be improved and he observed many workers were not wearing protective eye-wear 100 per cent of the time. He testi- fied he ordered Sohal to put on his glasses three times in June. Sohal complied but only after complain- ing about it. On July 6, a meeting was held so that management could reiter- ate to Sohal about his duties. But various disagreements broke out between Sohal and Albert Lum, shipping supervisor, about what was expected. He was suspended for three days in July for various insubor- dinations and for being dishonest about a back injury. On July 15, Sohal again com- plained of back pain and after see- ing a doctor, booked off work until July 29. When he returned, he was given a modified-work plan. During the discussions about the plan, he disagreed with Lum when he was told he had to pick up garbage outside the plant. He re- fused to sign and was sent home. He was given a five-day suspen- sion in August again for insubor- dination. Sohal eventually went on stress leave. He said that as a baptized Sikh he cannot touch drugs in any way, which included cigarette butts. Sohal took more time off due to injury in August and he was rep- rimanded for not providing them with enough medical information. Numerous attempts to reach Sohal were unsuccessful. On Nov. 13 he attended a meeting to dis- cuss a return to work. A final letter was sent Dec. 2 that advised Sohal if he couldn't provide the proper medical docu- mentation, he would be consid- ered AWOL and terminated. When that documentation failed to arrive, Sohal was fired during a Dec. 9 meeting. A report from the doctor arrived the next day, but the company was un- moved in its position. The union, United Steelwork- ers, Local 2009, grieved the dis- missal. Arbitrator Julie Nichols upheld the grievance and ordered Sohal reinstated but with a six-month suspension to replace the termi- nation. "Sohal requires a consistent and unambiguous message that his behaviour and uncooperative attitude must stop. The workplace is not an arena for debate. He has had the benefit of significant pro- gressive discipline and the mes- sage should now be unmistakable. While this relationship is salvage- able, it is important to enforce the severity of his circumstances. It should be clear that further mis- conduct puts his employment at risk," said Nichols. "Sohal's tenacious reluctance and refusal to follow directions, to cooperate and to willingly com- ply with reasonable expectations was improper. His insubordina- tion continued into the fall of 2015 when he failed to respond to and communicate with Interfor as re- quired. However, I find that the damage to the employment rela- tionship is not beyond repair." Reference: International Forest Products and United Steelworkers' Union, Local 2009. Julie Nichols — arbitrator. Grego- ry Heywood for the employer. Sean Ball for the employee. Jan. 30, 2017. < Expenses pg. 1

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