Legal News

Redistributing work instead of posting is ok

A BC arbitration award has upheld the right of an employer to eliminate a position and redistribute its duties to other employees. In an Award dated February 5, 2001, Mr. Colin Taylor, Q.C. dismissed the grievance of the CEP, Local 1123 against Norske Skog (Elk Falls Mill).

The union claimed that the employer was under an obligation to post the position of Mill Waterman subsequent to the incumbent retiring. The company’s position was that it had the right to redistribute the job duties of the Mill Waterman position and as such the company did not have an obligation to post the position given that a full time position no longer existed. The posting language in the local agreements between the company and Local 1123 provided:

“Bidding will be open to entry jobs only in lines of progression whenever Management decides that a permanent job opening exists.”

Herein, upon the incumbent retiring, the company assigned approximately 25-35% of the job duties to the electricians in the mill and assigned other trades to do the remaining duties.

Mr. Taylor stated that the assignment to the electricians of the electrical duties of the Mill Waterman position was made in good faith, and upon making that finding turned to the rights of management to restructure the workforce. Mr. Taylor stated at p. 22 of his Award the following:

“The job posting provision does not preclude the Employer from reorganizing the work force. There is no provision in the collective agreement which prevents the Employer from reassigning or redistributing job duties. Absent an express restriction in the collective agreement, the Employer is entitled to manage and direct the work force, which includes the reorganization and reallocation of job duties. There is no proprietary interest in a specific set of job functions. In such circumstances, the continued performance of the work, in and of itself, will not lead to the conclusion that there is a vacant position.”

Mr. Taylor then concluded that as there was insufficient work to establish a full time vacancy, the employer did not have an obligation to post.

Norske Skog (Elk Falls Mill) was represented by Harris & company counsel.