LSA & SA Shift Bids -Accommodation of Injured / Ill Workers

LSA & SA SHIFT BIDS –
ACCOMMODATION OF INJURED / ILL WORKERS

We would like to clarify what has happened in the regards to the LSA and SA shift bid and the accommodation of the injured/accommodated workers.

At the start of the shift bid discussions, the company informed us that they would need to hold all CNX lead positions for the accommodated workers. We told the company that this was totally unacceptable that all CNX positions would be held, as we feel there are numerous other positions the accommodated workers could do, such as Sequence Lead or Leads in the radio room. We had productive discussions with some of the senior LSA’s as to the effect of the company holding these positions.

On September 27, 2010 we met with Labour Relations and the Chief Arbitrator at his office in Toronto. We expressed our concerns that taking jobs from the main roster to reserve them for the accommodated workers was starting to have a severe effect on the seniority rights of the able bodied worker. We believe the company is simply taking the easy way out and there are plenty of positions that the accommodated workers can do without affecting the seniority rights of the able bodied. The Arbitrator agreed with the company’s position that the Union cannot force the company to create positions, the company has the right to accommodate those who are injured / ill with positions that are currently available.

We then contacted our Lawyers and had a conference call on October 6, 2010 regarding the whole issue of accommodation. We were advised that the Union has a legal responsibility to participate in the accommodation of the injured / ill workers. Unfortunately, the Union’s Lawyers advised us that legally the Union cannot force the company to create jobs and that in some circumstances an employer has the right to take jobs from the main roster for the accommodated worker. We cannot force the company to create jobs.

Last Friday, October 8, 2010, we met again with the Arbitrator and Labour Relations at our Monthly Arbitration hearing. Knowing the bids were starting on Tuesday, again we expressed our concerns that the company is taking the easy way out by simply taking jobs off the main roster to the detriment of the seniority rights of our more senior members. The Union offered a solution, that the company find positions outside of the main roster thereby reducing the effect on our members seniority. The Arbitrator was sympathetic to our position but once again stated that we cannot legally force the company to create jobs or have additional bodies when they are not required. He did feel that his award of September 30, 2010, which will require updated medical, would help to alleviate the sheer numbers of accommodated workers. We explained that the company wanted to take all nine (9) Connection Lead positions and reserve them for the accommodated worker. The Arbitrator agreed with our position that the Connection Leads would be limited to a maximum of six (6), the same as last bid, but the company could, if necessary, hold positions in the Bag rooms although the positions would be bid out. He then put out his award last Friday afternoon, (October 8, 2010) which has been posted. Therefore we had no time to remove these spots from the bid sheets. This caused additional confusion as well.

We have run into a similar problem with the SA positions and the company holding some shifts we would consider to be prime shifts. In the past the effect of holding shifts had a less severe impact but due to the numbers it is now having a huge impact on seniority. The Union’s position is that, even if the company is not legally compelled to, the company should sit down with us and find a solution that works for everyone. We know there are ways to reconfigure duties without adding to the total number of jobs that will be of value to the operation, this could be a win for all.

We understand the frustration and anger this issue has created for members on both sides of this issue but rest assured we are doing everything we can to find a fair solution. Let’s not let the company’s failure to find a solution cause a conflict between the accommodated workers and the non accommodated workers, remember we are all in this together!

In Solidarity

Boyd Richardson
General Chairperson

Derek Morgan
Shop Committee Chairperson

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