©b69r AD HOC 136
IN THE MATTER OF A GRIEVANCE INVESTIGATION
PURSUANT TO SECTION 112 OF THE B.C. LABOUR CODE
IN A DISPUTE
BETWEEN: THE BRITISH COLUMBIA RAILWAY COMPANY
(hereinafter Referred To As "The Company")
AND: THE UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION, LOCALS NO. 1178 AND 1923
(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
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.
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
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.
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
Signed at Vancouver, British Columbia, this 9th day of May, 1983.