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(hereinafter Referred To As "The Company")



(Hereinafter Referred To As "The Union")





Section 112 Investigator: Brian Foley

Appearing For The Company: D. Pysh, D. Sawchuk, A. Shannon

Appearing For The Union: C. Mulhall R. Sharpe

Date Of Meeting(s) With The Parties: May 3, 1983, at Vancouver, B.C.

Date Of Written Report: May 9, 1983



Issue: Collective Agreement Interpretation - Spareboard Coverage

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By agreement between the Company and the Union, the undersigned was

appointed under Section 112 of the B.C. Labour Code to investigate

grievances and make written recommendations to the parties for their

resolution. In April 1983, the parties requested a recommendation

with respect to the interpretation of the collective agreement

provision jurisdicting over "spareboard coverage". A meeting

with the parties was held in Vancouver on May 3, 1983. At this

meeting, the parties agreed that the grievance investigator was

properly constituted and had the jurisdiction to deal with the

matter in dispute. In addition, the parties agreed that the

investigator's recommendations would be final and binding.



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Article 125(f) of the collective agreement prescribes as follows:

Arrangements may be made by the Local Chairman and the

Assistant Manager, Operations to fill vacancies of less than

six (6) days at outside points by any qualified employee to

avoid excessive travelling by spare men. Consent to such

arrangements not to be unreasonably withheld.

In the event that a requirement for emergency relief arises,

it is agreed that relief may be provided by the most

convenient means regardlesss of zone arrangements.



The present dispute arose over the supply of spare trainmen to the

Exeter station. Exeter is a station within the Lillooet Zone of the

Railway and, for a number of years, spare trainmen for the Exeter

station have been obtained from Lillooet. When required from

Lillooet (generally about twice a month), the spare employees are

deadheaded to Exeter by either private automobile or taxi. The

Company has expressed concern for the cost of providing the Exeter

spareboard coverage from Lillooet and has proposed that the

coverage in the future be provided from Williams Lake, a different



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The Union recognizes that# in accordance with Article 125(f), it

cannot unreasonably withhold its consent to arrangements made to

provide relief for "outside points" However, the Union argues that

this provision only applies to spareboard assignments within the same

zone. In the present case, it is proposed that the Exeter station

spareboard be transferred from the Lillooet zone to the Williams

Lake zone. The Union argues that such a change is not the type

contemplated within the meaning of paragraph 1 of Article 125(f).

In the Union's view, the clause was not intended to allow the

Company to reassign sparemen on a permanent basis from one zone to

another. The Union argues that such a major change can only be made

in collective agreement negotiations since it would have a domino

effect on a number of other articles in the collective agreement.


The Company points to the wording in Article 125(f) and to the manner

in which it has been interpreted in recent years. In the Company's

view, the wording provides that spare trainmen may be assigned

without concurrence of the Union and without regard to zone

arrangements; in this regard, examples are provided of the manner in

which the provision has been interpreted in the past. The Company

argues that transferring the Exeter spareboard to Williams Lake is

a management discretion prescribed in paragraph 1 of Article 125(f)

and the Union cannot reasonably withhold its consent. In the

Company's view, the Union has not shown that the Company's request is

unreasonable in the circumstances and has not shown that the

objections to the proposed change are reasonable.


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I have considered the various arguments of the parties against the

wording in the collective agreement. From the wording of paragraph

1 of Article 125(f), the Union is prohibited from unreasonably

withholding its consent to arrangements made to fill vacancies at

outside points in order to avoid excessive travelling by spare men.

However, that prohibition must be considered in the context of

paragraph 2 of Article 125(f) which prescribes that relief may be

provided in emergency situations "regardless of zone arrangements".

Considering the two paragraphs together, I have come to the

conclusion that paragraph 1 only applies to vacancies within the

prescribed zones, not from one zone to another.

In my view, the proposal made by the Company to utilize the Williams

Lake spareboard to service Exeter is beyond the scope of paragraph 1

of Article 125(f). If there is to be a change in the spareboard

coverage from one zone to another, that is a matter that would have

to be addressed in collective bargaining. My conclusion in this

regard is based not only on the wording in Article 125(f) but also

on the basis of my review of the wording in other clauses and the

manner in which the wording has evolved and has been interpreted by

the parties.


Signed at Vancouver, British Columbia, this 9th day of May, 1983.