Unionized live-in workers in London, Ontario, will receive compensation after an arbitrator ruled that the city administration erred by not giving them a holiday on September 19, a national day of mourning following the death of the queen last year. Isabel.
CUPE Local 101, which represents about 900 inner-city workers, filed the complaint on September 20. The union claimed the city had breached a section of its collective agreement with the workers by rejecting their request to hold the Queen’s funeral day, which fell on a Monday, treated as a public holiday.
The agreement says that CUPE members who work on holidays who do not work regularly must be compensated at the regular rate of pay. In addition to legal holidays, the agreement defines holidays as described in the Bills of Exchange Law: “Any day designated by proclamation to be observed as a public holiday or a day of general prayer or mourning or a day of public rejoicing or action of thanks, all over Canada”.
During the arbitration hearing, lawyers for both sides disagreed on whether the wording of a federal order in council and statements and press releases issued by the government met the definition of a holiday.
In his March 30 decision, arbitrator Michael Bendel sided with the union, saying its members are entitled to be paid for working that day as if it were a holiday.
Attorney Michael Klug, the attorney representing CUPE in the lawsuit, confirmed with Breaking: that workers covered by the collective agreement who worked that day will receive the applicable overtime rate plus vacation pay.
Breaking: has contacted CUPE Local 101 President Steve Holland for comment. In an email, Holland said that he was on vacation and he could not comment and that no one else in the union leadership was available for an interview.
While the federal government declared September 19 a holiday for federal workers after the Queen’s death on September 8, it was up to the provinces to decide whether to declare the provincial holiday.
Different in different provinces
Prime Minister Doug Ford opted not to make the day a public holiday in Ontario, saying it would allow children to stay in school and learn about the Queen’s achievements.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba also decided not to declare September 19 as a legal holiday.
However, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador joined the federal government in making September 19 a provincial holiday.
BC declared the holiday for public sector employees, while private sector employers were encouraged to mark the day in a manner “appropriate to their employees”.
In the UK, September 19 was declared a bank holiday, resulting in the closure of schools and government services. UK businesses were allowed to stay open if they chose or close without having to compensate employees.
New Zealand and Australia decided to celebrate unique national holidays on the day of the Queen’s funeral.
Two unions in BC lost a similar complaint after an arbitrator’s decision in that province. The arbitrator ruled that government leaders deliberately refrained from declaring the day a public holiday for workers outside the federal government.
The City of London has filed a judicial review of the decision, which is still pending. A city spokesperson said no city staff can comment while the judicial review is heard.