According to NAPE President Carol Furlong, “In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal upheld the Board of Arbitration’s finding that the Department’s actions violated the seniority provisions of the MOS Collective Agreement. The Court has directed the parties to attempt to reach agreement on lost salary and benefits, and if no agreement is reached, the matter of lost salary and benefits can be remitted to the Board of Arbitration for resolution”. Furlong stated, “This award addresses the monetary aspect of the grievance but even more importantly, the Court recognized the need to protect the principle of seniority, a bedrock principle of unions.”

The issue arose when NAPE grieved the 2005 closure of 13 highway depots and the resulting layoffs of employees with the Department of Transportation and Works. NAPE arbitrated the issue and was successful and the grievances were upheld. Government unsuccessfully took the Arbitration Award to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division, where the Court upheld the award of the Arbitrator in its entirety. The Department further appealed to the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal, Newfoundland’s highest Court.

In his award, Justice Harrington stated: “The May 2005 layoff notice prior to the announcement of the amalgamation of the thirteen Headquarters Areas was an improper attempt to avoid the exercise of the workers’ rights conferred under Article 28.04.” The Court of Appeal noted that “the finding that the Department violated the seniority and recall rights of the affected employees requires that the parties attempt, as the Board directed, to agree upon what losses of salary and benefits resulted from the Department’s failure to follow the procedure discussed in these reasons and in the Board’s decision.”

Furlong stated, “In light of the latest ruling by the Supreme Court, we are calling on the Minister of Transportation and Works to immediately rescind layoff notices and reopen the units which were closed last month”.

For information contact:
Bert Blundon – 727-6892; 570-2466
Carol Furlong – 691-5701; 570-2471