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UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTICES - Violation of freeze period

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 @ 8:08 AM  

Application by the Crown to set aside two decisions by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. The applicant and the respondent union were engaged in collective bargaining with a statutory freeze that kept existing terms and conditions of employment in effect. The union filed two unfair labour practice complaints after the applicant reduced hours of work for correctional employees and removed certain flexibilities for CRA employees. The complaints were filed more than 90 days after the notices of the changes given by the applicant, but within 90 days of the implementation of the changes. The Board ruled that the complaints were timely, as the 90-day time limit ran from the date of the change to the terms and conditions of employment rather than the prior notice. The Board ruled that the changes violated the statutory freeze and therefore constituted unfair labour practices. The Crown appealed, challenging the finding that the complaints were brought in timely fashion.

HELD: Application dismissed. The Board's contention that its decisions in the instant case were unreviewable was definitively settled by prior cases and was without merit. Under s. 34(1) of the Federal Public Sector Labour and Employment Board Act, the Board's decisions were reviewable on a standard of reasonableness and were entitled to considerable deference. Here, the Board's decisions on the timeliness issue were reasonable and consistent with its prior decisions on the issue. There was nothing unreasonable in concluding that the action or circumstance giving rise to a statutory freeze complaint was the impugned change in terms and conditions of employment, as s. 107 of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act prevented such changes from being made. Nothing in the wording of s. 190(2) of the Act, nor its overall policy mandated a different conclusion.

Public Service Alliance of Canada v. Treasury Board (Correctional Service of Canada), [2019] F.C.J. No. 217, Federal Court of Appeal, M. Nadon, J. Gauthier and M.J.L. Gleason JJ.A., March 1, 2019. Digest No. TLD-March252019006