Supreme Court upholds labour board rulings

Deana Stokes Sullivan
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Justice

Nine electricians in central Newfoundland, who were laid off almost four years ago, have won the latest in a series of challenges to have a grievance filed on their behalf by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2330.

In the latest development, a court application submitted by Locke's Electrical Ltd. to have two Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Board orders quashed was dismissed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Trial Division.

James Bennett

Nine electricians in central Newfoundland, who were laid off almost four years ago, have won the latest in a series of challenges to have a grievance filed on their behalf by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2330.

In the latest development, a court application submitted by Locke's Electrical Ltd. to have two Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Board orders quashed was dismissed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Trial Division.

The company filed the court application seeking to quash two board orders, dated Sept. 17, 2008 and Dec. 13, 2006, regarding a grievance requested by its former employees.

The men, who were employed at the Duck Pond mine construction site near Millertown, were laid off June 15, 2006.

Their records of employment cited a shortage of work, but they alleged they were replaced within two days of their terminations.

The court documents say the workers believed they were discriminated against by the company for speaking out about alleged violations of their collective agreement.

On June 28, 2006, they attempted to file a grievance with the union but were not successful. On Sept. 8, 2006, the displaced workers filed a complaint with the labour relations board, alleging the union refused to bring their grievance forward.

The company argued that on the day of the layoffs, it had more workers than needed, while the union argued that the right to pursue a matter to arbitration rests solely with it.

The union also argued that filing a grievance on behalf of the nine workers would amount to an acceptance or condoning of an unlawful work stoppage the workers had been involved in.

However the court documents indicate there was nothing in the union's files to indicate it clearly communicated with the men its reasons for not filing the grievance and there was also no indication of communication with the employees regarding an amendment to their collective agreement for a 48-hour work week, which "likely contributed to the members' decision to work less hours."

Lack of good faith

The board, in its first decision on Dec. 13, 2006, found that there was a lack of good faith in handling the grievance and ordered the union to proceed with the grievance to arbitration.

Locke's Electrical reacted by making an application to the board to "review, rescind, amend, alter or vary its order," but on Sept. 17, 2008 a second decision concluded that there was no reason to alter the original decision and the company's application was rejected.

The company, represented by lawyer Har-old Smith, subsequently filed a court application, asking that both labour relations board orders be quashed.

Other lawyers in-volved in the case were Mark Murray representing the union, James Bennett representing the nine workers and Ernest Boone representing the labour relations board.

Right to representation

Justice Maureen Dunn, in a ruling filed Feb. 11, said while there's nothing in the Labour Relations Act to say a union must bring a grievance on behalf of an employee, Section 130 "clearly and unequivocally" recognizes the employees' right to be "fairly represented by the union and the union's unequivocal duty to act in good faith."

Dunn ruled that the decision of the second labour relations board, to uphold the first board decision, was reasonable and dismissed the court application from Locke's Electrical, awarding costs to the displaced workers on a "party and party basis."

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Supreme Court, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Newfoundland and Labrador Trial Division

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Duck Pond, Millertown

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments