The Supreme Court of Canada has recently said it will not hear an appeal from the Winnipeg Airports Authority of a case that PSAC won at a lower court.

The Supreme Court’s decision means that a ruling of the Manitoba Court of Appeal on shift and weekend premiums stands. As a result, over 60 PSAC/UCTE members will get paid the premiums they were initially denied by the employer.

“This victory highlights the critical role that individual members and the Union can play in defending hard-won rights under the collective agreement,” said Marianne Hladun, PSAC Regional Executive Vice President for the Prairie region.

Employer must pay shift premium and weekend premium

These grievances dealt with the right to be paid for both a shift and weekend premium for the same hours worked on a weekend during the night shift.

The grievors included duty managers, power engineers, firefighters, trades people and snow shovellers – all of whom do shift work. The employer argued that paying both premiums would be considered “pyramiding”, which is not allowed under the collective agreement. However, the arbitrator ruled that “pyramiding” only occurs where the two payments are for the same purpose. The evidence demonstrated that shift and weekend premium had different purposes.

Judicial review of arbitrator’s ruling

PSAC/UCTE members initially won their grievance at arbitration, but the employer sought judicial review of the arbitrator’s ruling. The lower court agreed with the employer and overturned the arbitrator’s decision, but the Court of Appeal disagreed. It ruled that the arbitrator’s decision was a reasonable interpretation of the collective agreement. Since the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the employer’s further appeal, the arbitrator’s initial ruling is now final.

Collective agreement rights protected

This victory is important because it reinforces basic principles of contract interpretation and the notion of pyramiding.