AH - 165












(the “Company”)








(the “Union”)








SOLE ARBITRATOR:     J.F.W. Weatherill



There appeared on behalf of the Company:

                                I.J. Waddell



And on behalf of the Union:

                                R.J. Cranch



A hearing in this matter was held at Ottawa on the 15th day of July, 1976.


                In this grievance the union alleges that the company arbitrarily assigned a portion of the grievor’s territory to a Cable Specialist with the result that his position was abolished and he lost wages.


                The parties produced a joint statement of facts which is as follows:


1.       In July 1970 the Company established a position of Cable Specialist, Grade 3, Saskatchewan District with headquarters at Weyburn, Sask.


2.       The regular responsibilities of the aforementioned position included the installation, repair and maintenance of Cable Plant on the Saskatchewan District and the pole line maintenance on the Portal and Kisbey Subdivisions.


3.       On October 1, 1972, for operational reasons, the headquarters of the aforementioned position were relocated from Weyburn, Sask. to Regina, Sask.  No change in work assignments occurred as a result of this relocation.


4.       On May 16, 1975, due to the abolishment of the Lineman’s position, Grade 2, at Moose Jaw, Sask., the pole line maintenance responsibilities of the abolished position were assigned between the positions of Lineman, Grade 2, and Cable Specialist, Grade 3, both headquartered at Regina.


5.       On January 27, 1976 the Company gave notice pursuant to Article VIII, clause 1 of the Job Security - Technological, Operational, Organizational Agreement of its intention to abolish the position of Lineman, Grade 2, at Regina, Sask. effective May 1, 1976.  Coincidental with this abolishment, the pole line maintenance of that portion of the Indian Head, Sask. which had previously been the responsibility of the abolished position was assigned to the position of Cable Specialist, Grade 3, headquatered at Regina, Sask.


6.       On April 2, 1976, Mr. R.J. Cranch, General Chairman (Rail), B.R.A.C. System Board of Adjustment #15 wrote to Mr. A.H. Neville, Director Industrial Relations, CP Telecommunications in connection with the work assigned to the position of Cable Specialist, Grade 3, headquartered at Regina, Sask.  (see exhibit SF-1).


7.       On April 13, 1976, Mr. Neville replied to Mr. Cranch outlining the Company’s position (see Exhibit SF-2).


8.       On April 27, 1976, the Union, in a letter from Mr. Cranch, alleged the Company had violated the Collective Agreement by assigning pole line maintenance between Regina, Sask. And Broadview, Sask. To the position of Cable Specialist, Grade 3, headquartered at Regina, Sask.  (see Exhibit SF-3).




It is the Union’s contention that the Company, in assigning pole line maintenance between Regina, Sask. And Indian Head, Sask., to the position of Cable specialist, Grade 3, headquartered at Regina, Sask., has violated the following provisions of the Collective Agreement:


i)        Article 4, clause 2

ii)       Article 5, clause 5

iii)     Article 5, clause 9


In addition the Union contends that historically, the Company cannot permanently assign pole line responsibility to the Cable group or, vice versa, assign cable installation and maintenance to the Lineman’s group.


It is the company’s contention that such assignments, which have existed on both the Saskatchewan and other Seniority District on both a regular and ‘as and when required basis’ for a number of years are not in conflict with the provisions of the Collective Agreement.


                There have, over the years, been a number of changes in assignments for pole line maintenance, and these assignments have meant, among other things, a reduction in the number of Linemen.  When the grievor’s position was abolished (notice being given under Article VIII of the Job Security Agreement) there was. Again, a reassignment of responsibility for pole line maintenance.  A part of the territory for which the grievor was responsible was assigned to a Cable Specialist, headquartered at Regina.


                The Cable Specialist concerned is also qualified as a lineman, although he has less seniority in that classification than does the grievor.  The grievor, however, does not appear to be qualified as a Cable Specialist.  In any event, there is no issue raised in that respect in this case.


                The grievor was advised on January 27, 1976, that his position would be abolished effective May 1.  He was asked what his wishes were with respect to article 8.03 of the collective agreement.  That article is as follows:


When a permanently established employee is displaced or his position is abolished he will, seniority and ability being sufficient, displace the junior permanently assigned employee of the same classification in such seniority group on his seniority and promotion district.  In the event of his being unable to hold a position in such classification, he will, seniority and ability being sufficient, displace the junior permanently assigned employee in another classification in the same seniority group, and there being none, will displace the junior permanently assigned employee in a lower group in compliance with clause 5.05.  An employee displaced for any reason will exercise his seniority in the same manner.


                The grievor replied that he wished to exercise his seniority with respect to the junior permanent Lineman’s position; he described, however, the position in terms of territory covered by the Cable Specialist.  He was advised by the company that he would be entitled to displace a junior Lineman, but not the Cable Specialist.  As the matter was progressed, it became apparent that the union’s main concern is really with the assignment of the Cable Specialist.  There is no claim that that the grievor should displace the Cable Specialist as such.  Rather, the main ground of complaint appears to be the assignment of the Cable Specialist to Lineman’s work.


                Article 4.02 of the collective agreement is as follows:


The classification of a position will not be changed except by mutual agreement between the Director, Industrial Relations of the Company and the General Chairman of the Union.


                There is no claim that there has been any change in the classification of Lineman.  It is argued, however, that assignment of Linemen’s’ work to Cable Specialists is improper.  Reference was made, in support of this, to articles 5.05 and 5.09, which are as follows:


5.05 A seniority list will be maintained for each seniority and promotion district showing seniority standing in each of the following groups:


1)      Groundmen

2)      Head Climbers, Climbers, Climber-Truck Drivers

3)      Digging and Setting Machine Operators and Helpers

4)      Cable Foremen

Cable Specialists

Assistant Cable Specialist

Cable Specialists’ Helpers

5)      Linemen, Foremen


Where the word “group” appears in this Agreement, it will also refer to the individual classifications in the group.


Such lists shall show the name, occupation, location, seniority date and rank in each group in which the employee holds seniority.  The onus of checking the seniority lists will be on the employees.  No change shall be made in the existing seniority status of an employee unless concurred in by General Chairman.



5.09 Employees will be required, in seniority order, to protect positions in the highest group in which their seniority and qualifications entitle them to work and failing to do so, will forfeit their seniority in the group or groups in which they fail to protect same.  However, this will not apply in respect of Linemen who desire to establish themselves and work in the cable group.


                I am, with respect, unable to see that article 5.09 is material to the case before me, having regard to the nature of the claim being advanced.  The grievor’s claim, to repeat, is not to be assigned Cable Specialist’s work, but to restrict the company from assigning line work to a Cable Specialist in such a manner as to reduce the opportunities for Linemen.


                Article 5.05 does make it clear that the “cable” classifications form a separate group for seniority purposes.  This article, however, does not establish job descriptions or lines of demarcation as between classifications.  There may, then, be certain areas of overlap as between the assignments given employees in different classifications.


                It is clear that there has been such an overlap as between the assignments of Cable Specialists and those of Linemen, for a number of years.  That is, at least since the establishment of Cable Specialist in the Saskatchewan district in 1970, the Cable Specialist  has performed certain pole line maintenance work, that is, work which also falls within the scope of a Lineman’s classification.  The extent of assignment of such work to the Cable Specialist has varied since then, with the changes which were referred to earlier.  These assignments were openly made, and there was no secret about the work the Cable Specialist was doing.  It may be that when the position was created in 1970 the assignment of tasks which was made amounted to a change in the classification of Cable specialist.  It is by no means clear that this would mean that the “classification” of the position had changed.  Since that time, however, while there have been variations in the amount of pole line maintenance assigned to the Cable Specialist, the change made at the time of the abolition of the grievor’s position did not involve any substantial departure from the situation which had existed from some years.


                It is worth noting that article 4 is headed “Preservation of Rates” and that article 4.03 provides as follows:


Established position shall not be discontinued or abolished and new ones created under different title covering relatively the same duties and responsibilities for the purpose of reducing the rate of pay.  However when it becomes necessary to establish positions at the same points involving duties not reasonably comparable with those of the positions shall be established in accordance with clause 4.01.


                Even if it be considered that the company was altering the classification of Cable Specialist so that it would cover relatively the same duties and responsibilities as that Lineman (and the degree of overlap was substantial), this was evidently not done for the purpose of reducing the rate of pay, Cable specialist being a higher-rated classification than that of Lineman.


                There has been no violation, then of the provisions of article 4 of article 5.  If, which is not the case here, a person in some other classification were in fact assigned nothing, or virtually nothing but Lineman’s work, without some significant assignment pertaining to his own classification, then the conclusion might be reached that that person was, in fact, a lineman.  Such a state of affairs could not be allowed to by-pass the seniority or other provisions of the collective agreement.  That is not, however, the case here.  The Cable Specialist does considerable Lineman’s work, as he has for some years (at one stage covering considerably more mileage than is now the case), he also performs work which is within that of a lineman.  The overall mileage covered has been reduced.


                The grievor’s right, when his position was abolished, was to displace the junior permanently assigned employee of the same classification.  The Cable Specialist was, neither apparently not in fact, such a person.  The grievor did not have the right to displace him, nor to claim the right to be assigned certain tasks which were assigned to him in the course of his duties.  It should not be thought that the Cable Specialist has simply taken over the grievor’s duties.  There have been changes in the pole line assignments generally, and one of the results is that some work done by the cable specialist was formally done by the grievor.


                There is, as the union pointed out, no classification of “Cable-Lineman”.  The actual assignment of the Cable Specialist might appear to approximate a classification so entitled.  Even if it be thought that the position should be reclassified, that would not be of assistance to the grievor, who, as a Lineman, would still not have any rights to such job.


                There has, then, been no violation of any provisions of the collective agreement material to this case.  The grievance must accordingly be dismissed.


DATED at Toronto, this 28th day of July, 1976/