AH – 45



Canadian National Railway Company

(the "Company")


Canadian Brotherhood of Railway, Transport and General Workers

(the "Union")






There appeared on behalf of the Company:

D. O. McGrath – Labour Relations Assistant

W. R. Freeborn – Labour Relations Assistant

A. Lang – Manager of Materials

J. J. Groves – Employee Relations Officer

C. C. Urquhart – General Foreman

J. O. Melanson – Supervisor, Inventory Control


And on behalf of the Union:

J. A. Pelletier

M. Zawaly

G. Gagnon

W. Bourdon


A hearing in this matter was held at Montreal, Quebec, on July 18, 1967.


The facts established that on September 1, 1966, Management transferred eight positions of Stockkeeper (subsequently reclassified as Stock Controller) from a schedule group to a non-schedule group. At that time an increase in the rate of pay was made, bringing it to $433.00.

On February 1, 1966, the same eight positions of Stock Controller, subsequently reclassified as Stock Maintainer, were returned from the non-schedule group to the schedule group and assigned at Point St. Charles. The rate of pay of Stock Maintainer was established at $409.90.

This dispute arises from the claim by the Brotherhood that the rate of $409.90 per month thus established for the classification of Stock Maintainer at Point St. Charles Stores Department is not appropriate: that because these employees now perform the same duties and have the same responsibilities formerly attached to the classification of Stock Controller, the rate of $433.00 for the latter (the rate applicable prior to a wage increase in January, 1966) should have been maintained at the time of transfer.

The Brotherhood produced to the Arbitrator a Memorandum issued by management concerning the transfer of work from the Headquarters Stores to Point St. Charles Stores, dated February 1, 1966, containing pertinent background information. In part it reads:

In 1963 a study was made concerning a more practical method of Inventory control, that involved determining the total number of items in stock at point St. Charles and classifying these items into what became known as A, B and C lists of items. A further study was required to determine the relative importance, dollar-wise, of each class to the total inventory issues` figure. The results indicated that of 42,000 items, 1,800 A and B accounted for 86% of the total dollar issue. This indicated to management that a control group located in Headquarters in the Manager of Materials` office was necessary to handle the 1,800 items. The remaining items (such as was done in Moncton) required less control and should be returned to the Main Stores and covered by schedule employees, who would do the ordering for A, B and C items, but subject to a control over the A and B items by the Headquarters group.

To accomplish this study, it was necessary to centralize the work involved in Headquarters and former Stockkeepers were requested to participate in this study. A title of Stock Controller (present rate $433.00 per month, non-schedule) was created. It was felt that, in view of the work involved in the developmental stage, some recognition should be made, salary-wise, to these employees over and above the stockkeeper rate. They were also exercising control over A and B items.

In the early part of 1963 our study had progressed to the point where discussions were held with the General Chairman, Mr. Jones, for a new classification of Stock Maintainer to be established at Winnipeg, and a tentative summary of duties was drafted at that time. Although the duties of stockkeepers would not be added to, nor would any work be taken away, it was felt that the operation would be more efficient if the work load was redistributed in a manner where one group would perform the ordering process and another group look after warehousing. The Stock Maintainer would look after the ordering process and the Stockkeeper the warehousing.

In June of 1965, after discussions with General Chairman, Mr. Abbott, a rate of $409.90 was negotiated for the position of Stock Maintainer at Moncton. The negotiations for Winnipeg are presently at a standstill.

It is for this reason that this meeting is called for this afternoon - to negotiate a Memorandum of Agreement providing for the inclusion of the new classification of Stock Maintainer, rate 409.90$, to apply to the eight employees who will transfer with their work to Point St. Charles on February 1, for the control of the C items only and control over the A and B items will remain a headquarters function. Therefore, it can be seen that a Stock Controller is different in accountability and responsibility than a Stock Maintainer, to the extent that the Headquarters group retains control over the A and B items …

During the course of the negotiations between the parties as to the rate for the classification of Stock Maintainer at Point St. Charles, Mr. A.D. Lang, Manager of Materials, under date of April 12, 1966, wrote a letter to the Acting General Chairman, Mr. G. Gagnon, containing this information (in part) :

The question of rate of pay was discussed on several occasions with all the General Chairman, and at the recent meeting held in my office where the General Chairman was present (except Mr. Jutras) where an attempt was made to outline the reason for the rate of pay for Stock Controller and for a Stock Maintainer.



1. Replenish stock to meet current demand: (by physical check, reviewing panel cards, checking bin cards).

1. Replenish stocks to meet current demand: (This work greatly facilitated by the aid of machine prepared reports)

2. Checks inactive and surplus stocks at other locations prior to replenishing stocks (from manually prepared lists).

2. Checks inactive and surplus stocks at other locations prior to replenishing stocks.( Now receives a machine prepared list).

3. Ensures information on Material and Panel Card records is updated currently from various reports.

3. Ensures information on Material History Cards is updated currently from various reports. (His work is now simplified due to mechanized procedures.)

4. Makes 20 min. daily physical check of stocks on hand, checking with Bin and Panel Cards to detect errors.

4. Checks for evident errors indicated on machine prepared stock status reports. ( This again facilitates picking up errors and precludes the daily physical count, check, etc.)

5. Prepares, updates, or deletes Bin Card and Panel Cards records.

5. Prepares, updates or deletes items or stock by use of Form S-16 and sets up material history cards. (This duty now simplified.)

6. Arranges to have inactive and obsolete material investigated and written up for disposition or transfer.

6. Arranges to have inactive and obsolete material investigated and written up for disposition or transfer (Again from machine prepared reports.)

7. Checks lists and prepares reports and statements as required.

7. Checks lists and prepares reports and statements as required.

8. Arranges for Bin checks

8. Arranges for Bin checks

From the above you will agree that the duties and responsibilities of these two positions have not changed over the past several years. The responsibilities have not altered in any way. In fact, the duties have, through the new system, been lessened. These new procedures simplify the work to a great degree. The balancing, posting and most of the mathematical computations necessary under the old systems are no longer necessary. Indeed, the Stock Maintainers are supplied with "up-date" listings on which all pertinent data is spelled out for them in detail.

Notwithstanding these facts, when the Stock Maintainer position was established on the Atlantic Region, we agreed to an upward revision in rate of pay from $388.86 (Storekeeper) to $409.90 (Stock Maintainer).

When comparing duties and responsibilities of the Stock Controllers with those of the Stock Maintainer, we find a significant difference in the responsibilities and specifically the accountability factor. I cannot agree that there is only a very minor difference as stated in your letter. The Stock Controller’s position was established at Headquarters only; Stock Controllers were not set up at any other location. They were set up in order to run a feasibility test on new procedures and to conduct a trial run on implementation. They participated directly in changes, modifications and analyses involved in the implementation of Inventory Control. In other words, Stock Controllers were part of the Implementation Team. Stock Controllers were delegated authority to sign requisitions, store order documents, up to a certain amount. They were completely accountable for the expenditures of Company funds within delegated authority.

The work is presently organized on a strict formalized procedure and Stock Maintainers have no authority whatever for Company expenditures. Their duties and responsibilities are those of the former Stockkeeper, with the duties simplified through the use of mechanized reports. Stock Maintainers have expressed the opinion that they find the present system much better, simpler, and would not want to go back to the former system in vogue when the Stockkeeper classification was predominant.

The Brotherhood’s brief set out a comprehensive description of the duties actually performed by Stock Maintainers. These gave in much greater detail the physical and mental processes involved in carrying out the duties involved as compared with Management’s more general description as outlined in the letter of April 12, 1966, supra.

As to job descriptions generally, of instructive value is the reasoning followed in a matter concerning Bendix Aviation Corporation and International Electric Workers, 61-1 Arb, 8294, in which it was held:

The purpose of a job description is merely to identify a particular group of duties (job content) as a specific job. The job description, in addition to setting forth the duties, reflects the responsibility which the employer has assigned to the given job. The job description is not and cannot be considered as an agreement nor a guarantee as to how the job will be performed in every particular manner in the future, without change …

The mere inclusion of particular duties in a job description does not imply any obligation on the employer’s part forever to maintain such duties as part of the job, or to continue such inclusion …

The Arbitrator had the benefit of a comprehensive review of the actual duties performed by a Stock Maintainer by one presently in that classification, Mr. M. Zawaly. This description touched up on a principal source of complaint leading to this grievance, namely the preparation of requisitions leading to the purchase of A and B items. It will be noted that in the Memorandum issued by Management, quoted above, this appeared:

The incumbents of the eight stock maintainer positions will be responsible for the control of the C items only, and control over the A and B items will remain a Headquarters function.

Mr. Zawaly maintained that while it was necessary for his foreman to place his signature on requisitions for A and B items, this was done in a perfunctory manner, without any checking as to the necessity for or accuracy of the quantity said to be required in those items higher value as set forth in the requisitions prepared by the Stock Maintainer. In other words, that it was the stock maintainer’s duty to check on stock and to prepare the requisitions for quantities he considered required. This, in Mr. Zawaly’s opinion, represented a violation of what had been stated in the Memorandum quoted, namely, that the "control" of A and B items actually was left with the Stock Maintainer.

For the Company it was explained that a stock foreman was a knowledgeable person as to stock; that whether or not he actually made a personal check on each item when a requisition was handed him for his approval, was a matter in his discretion. Higher authority held him responsible for any error made therein. It was further stated, that after a requisition had been prepared by the Stock Maintainer and signed by the foreman, it was then sent to Headquarters, where the final authority for issuing the purchase order existed. This was the "control" referred to in the Memorandum, it was submitted. In other words, a Stock Maintainer had no actual control in the ordering of A and B items; his was purely a clerical function, for which his foreman had the right to hold him responsible for any error he made in the performance thereof.

Much of Mr. Zawaly’s detailed description of his duties perhaps would have been of value during the negotiating effort that went into establishing an increase for Stock Maintainers in Moncton. However, there was a little in it of value for comparative purposes in assessing points of similarity with the more responsible duties required of a stock controller.

The last paragraph of the Brotherhood’s brief read:

Because Stock Maintainers still have the same duties and responsibilities formerly assigned to them as Stock Controllers, it is the Brotherhood’s contention that the rate of pay of $433.00 (rate applicable prior to wage increases of January 1966) should have been maintained at the time of transfer, and therefore the brotherhood requests that the inferior financial differential be paid retroactive to the date of transfer.

From the facts described it is apparent that the classification of Stock Controller was created to fill the special requirements during a period of study to create a more efficient method of inventory control. Those assigned to that classification had authority over purchases of A and B items up to a maximum of $2,000 without review by a supervisor. This, of itself, indicates an assigned responsibility meriting a difference in rate above that paid those without it. Similarly, the responsibility placed upon stock controllers during that period of study to develop the new system, by which they had to participate directly in changes, modifications, and analyses involved in the implementation of inventory control, represents marked dissimilarity to the routine clerical duties of a stock maintainer, following the lines of procedure thus developed.

On that basis, this grievance could not succeed.

It would also fail on the basis of the principal answer made by the Company that in setting the salary of Stock Maintainers for those at Point St. Charles at $409.90, they had strictly complied with a governing provision in the Collective Agreement, namely, Article 21.5, reading:

The classification and rates of pay for additional positions established on staffs covered by this Agreement shall be in conformity with classifications and rates of pay for positions of similar kind or class covered by this Agreement.

As indicated, under date of June 14, 1965, a Memorandum of Agreement was executed covering the establishment of the classification of Stock Maintainer at Moncton, when a rate of $409.90 was agreed upon.

It was claimed that this Agreement, 5.1, is a system agreement; that in negotiating a rate and classification at Moncton a rate of pay for Stock Maintainers was established across the system.

Thus, February, 1966, the Company had followed what the parties had decreed should govern when determining the proper rate of pay for the Stock Maintainers at Point St. Charles, namely, they had conformed to the rate of pay previously established for a position as "similar kind or class" in Moncton.

For these reasons this claim is dismissed.

Dated at Brampton, Ontario, this 24th day of July, 1967.

J.A. Hanrahan


COMMENTARY: The Brotherhood attempted to compare a scheduled position of Stock Maintainer with a non-scheduled position notwithstanding that Article 21.5 restricts comparison to other scheduled positions.