Collective Agreement Estoppel

The university has now suggested that instead of annual reports, which often contain much more than a summary of activities, they intend to return to the true language of the agreement. The association has made no proposals around the table to reinstate the annual reports. From our point of view, the notification forms developed by some services have become so uncontrollable that they are extremely painful. A simple summary of activities is all that the agreement requires and we believe that it makes more sense than current practice. Estoppel`s second letter concerns the “annual reports” prepared by the departments and completed by the members as part of the remuneration process. The collective agreement does not mention “annual reports” as such. Instead, Article 2.04(e) of Part 2 states that “all members eligible for the provision of services shall submit to the Director a summary of their relevant scientific, doctrinal and service activities and may indicate the nature and importance of the activities.” In this case, it was the employer`s long-standing practice of paying certain groups of workers leave pay for their overtime at “leave rates”. Other employees were paid at the minimum rates required by the Canada Labour Act. The original employer, saskatchewan Wheat Pool, embarked on this practice. The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool collective agreements did not set the rate of vacation pay for overtime. When Saskatchewan acquired Wheat Pool Agricore United, it was renamed Viterra. Viterra, the new employer, has negotiated new collective agreements with the union.

The overtime leave rate was not discussed during the negotiations and no substantial changes were made to language with respect to vacation pay or language with respect to overtime. On January 3, 2017, before the start of this round of negotiations, the university issued two letters from Estoppel. The first looked at our annual milestones (CPI). Part Two, Article 2.02(d), provides that `the CPI may be withheld if, during that period, the Member demonstrates unsatisfactory progress in its career on the basis of the relevant criteria set out in Article 4 of Part 4`. As far as we know, this clause has never been used and we consider it an anachronism. There`s a reason most Canadian universities have an increment system like our CPI system. Universities typically have very long and progressive deferred compensation systems, with faculty starting with salaries well below the salaries they expect in retirement and which usually reach the top of the ladder in a very high phase or perhaps not at all. That is why we do not think it is appropriate to retain these increments.

In Viterra`s recent decision v. Grain Services Union, 2013 SKCA 93, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal reaffirmed the power of arbitrators to uphold the parties to current practice in the application of a collective agreement through the Estoppel doctrine. In the event of a dispute in a unionized workplace, the first place to seek guidance is the collective agreement – the contract that must govern the rights and obligations of employers and workers. . . .