November 4, 2020
COVID – 19
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring has created a challenging situation worldwide and has likely changed the way society will function going forward for years to come.
We the Union, both locally and Nationally, have tried to keep on top of the ever-evolving policies and directives issued by governments to keep our members as safe and informed as possible.
So far, the feared “second wave” has not hit Atlantic Canada as hard as it has other parts of the country.
The experience of others outside of our Atlantic Bubble is a reminder however that we must all be aware of consequences arising from becoming too comfortable with the situation at this time.
We all hope that at some point soon we will return to something resembling “normal”.
WTTH (WIRELESS TO THE HOME)
This technology is currently being rolled out in Atlantic Canada. We fully believe that this is our member’s work and have relayed this point of view to the company.
It is our impression that this technology will be delivering service to Atlantic Canadians into the future and it is imperative that our members take part in all aspects of this work.
WTTH has already began being deployed in Central Canada and Unifor Locals there have also insisted that this work belongs to their bargaining unit.
As of today, the company’s official position on this has been that: “if you want that work you will have to bargain for it”.
WORKING FROM HOME SURVEY
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many employers have implemented work from home programs. Unifor National is in the process of compiling information gathered from a survey regarding our experiences of working from home, including the impact of that work on our job performance, personal lives, mental and physical health, and more. The purpose of the survey is to use this information to help develop stronger bargaining demands, improve our working conditions, and demand better rules and legislation from governments.
SAFETY (GPS TRACKING)
In addition to the GPS devices in the company vehicles, Bell is now also using the member’s cell phones for location tracking purposes. We are told this is being done mainly for safety and dispatching purposes. This is a reminder for all to be aware of this.
Since Unifor ACL has joined the Corporate Health and Safety Committee of Bell Canada there have been ongoing discussions with the company to adjust the way we conduct business and meet our responsibilities as defined by the Canada Labour Code. The Company and the Union are currently looking at amending some areas of the structure going forward while respecting the obligations of our current Collective Agreement.
There were several high-profile arbitrations scheduled for this past spring which were put off because of the current pandemic:
This arbitration was scheduled for April 2020 and has been rescheduled for a mediation session on November 19, 2020, and if needed a full arbitration hearing in May of 2021. The purpose of this hearing is to define the responsibilities of CST’s and BST’s more clearly and what constitutes small business work versus consumer work.
This arbitration was to have taken place in May of 2020 and has now been rescheduled for February 16-18, 2021 in Halifax.
The purpose of this hearing is to answer whether Bell fulfilled its obligation to the Union to fill 60% of the positions lost when it offered a “limited Retirement Offer” beginning in 2014 and ending in 2017.
QAR (QUALITY ASSURANCE REPRESENTATIVE)
This arbitration was heard on October 21-23, 2020 in Halifax.
The arbitration is about service monitoring as laid out in Article 29.02 and Appendix” K” in our Collective Agreement. This is a Collective Agreement issue with a long history and past practice which has been challenged by the employer.
There are also a multitude of other denied step 3 grievances to which we are seeking dates before an arbitrator. We will keep you informed as we get more scheduled dates.
The grievance committee of Unifor ACL deals with all matters related to grievances at step 3 and higher. There are presently just over 80 grievances that fall under its responsibility. This committee has been working extremely hard, especially this past year, to resolve differences with the employer and settle a number of these outstanding grievances. We have so far this year closed 50 grievances at step 3 or higher. We will continue this work and attempt to resolve as many other grievances as possible prior to the beginning of bargaining next year. Ideally, we would prefer to enter bargaining with the least amount of outstanding issues possible.
Where it has been brought to our attention that members are being told they have 48 hours to submit their selection for vacation for the next calendar year or risk being passed over. We would like to remind members that the language which speaks to this in our Collective Agreement reads as below.
26.06 (b) Available vacation periods will not be reserved or held by employees during the selection process. An employee who delays the selection process for an unreasonable period will be given notice and will have a maximum of twenty-four (24) hours to submit their vacation selection. If a selection is not made, the next most senior employee will have an opportunity to make their vacation selection.
The union and company have never agreed to a definition of “unreasonable period”.
ACHCCS (ATLANTIC CANADA HEALTH CARE COALITION SOCIETY)
If you have yet to sign up for your discount cards as members of the ACHCCS please go to the UACL website and enroll. The link is below.
As most would be aware, our current Collective Agreement expires in December of 2021.
Please start thinking of proposals you would like submitted for review prior to commencement of bargaining next year. We expect to request the membership for proposals this coming spring with bargaining to begin in the Fall.
Contact your shop steward if you believe there are violations of the collective agreement in your workplace.
Jeff Nelson; Lee Pearce; Sandy Brideau; Faith Chaisson; Susan Rice
Jennifer Pauley; Stéphane Lamoureux; Cullen Bolger; Roch LeBlanc