MONTREAL – In a unanimous ruling issued at the end of the day, the Federal Court of Appeal sided with the TQS-Québec Employees Union (CUPE 3946). According to the Court, Remstar was in fact the employer of the union members when the TQS newsrooms were closed in violation of the collective agreements. This means that Remstar must be held responsible for the consequences of their failure to respect the employees’ rights.
In concrete terms, approximately sixty former employees of the TQS newsroom in Quebec City are entitled to full severance benefits under the collective agreement.The Court did not accept Remstar’s contention that the former employees are simply TQS creditors, entitled to a mere fraction of their benefits and their pay equity adjustments (less than 15 per cent). Only a Supreme Court appeal could overturn today’s decision, which is available online at: bit.ly/kTnZeD
“The union members deserve this victory. They are determined to assert their rights and have exercised considerable patience, as the judicial process is slow. We are asking Remstar that these employees be re-entered into the workplace and paid the indemnification due them since 2008,” said CUPE attorney Annick Desjardins.
In April 2008, the newsroom workers at TQS in Quebec City learned that they would all be fired. Since the acquisition of TQS was not final at the time of the layoffs, Remstar contended that they were acting merely as the temporary manager of the station. Accordingly, they claimed that they were not bound by any collective agreements and had no particular responsibility to the workers who were being fired.
CUPE challenged that interpretation in September 2008 before the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), which ruled in its favour in September 2009. Remstar asked the CIRB for a review, which confirmed its initial decision in July 2010. Remstar then appealed to the Court of Appeal, resulting in today’s negative verdict.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents some 7,600 members in the communications sector in Quebec. It is present in several other sectors as well, including health and social services, education, urban and air transport, Quebec government corporations and public agencies, energy, and municipalities. With more than 110,000 members, CUPE is the biggest affiliate of the FTQ.
For more information:
Annick Desjardins, CUPE union representative, mobile: 514 795-7528
Sébastien Goulet, CUPE Information, mobile: 438 882-3756