City workers win arbitration over day of mourning for late Queen

Workers to receive applicable overtime rate plus holiday pay, says union's lawyer

City workers win arbitration over day of mourning for late Queen

Workers in London, Ont. who worked on the Sept. 19, 2022 federal holiday will receive compensation following an arbitrator’s ruling.

According to the ruling, the city administration of London, Ont. erred by rejecting unionized workers’ request to have the day of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral treated as a holiday, reported CBC.

By doing so, the city violated a section of its collective agreement with the workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 101, which represents about 900 inside city workers, filed the grievance on Sept. 20 last year.

According to the agreement, CUPE members who work on holidays they don't regularly work must be compensated at the regular rate of pay. In addition to statutory holidays, the agreement defines holidays as "any day appointed by proclamation to be observed as a public holiday or a day of general prayer or mourning or day of public rejoicing or thanksgiving, throughout Canada" – just as they are described in the Bills of Exchange Act.

That same month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Sept. 19 will be a federal holiday in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

However, it was up to the provinces to decide whether or not to declare the day a provincial holiday.

Collective agreement disagreement

The wording of a federal order in council and statements and news releases issued by the government were the main topic of discussion between lawyers on both sides, said the CBC.

In his decision, arbitrator Michael Bendel sided with the union. Bendel noted that CUPE Local 101 members are entitled to be paid for working that day as if it was a holiday.

Michael Klug, the lawyer representing CUPE in the grievance, also said that workers covered by the collective agreement who worked that day will receive the applicable overtime rate plus holiday pay, according to the CBC report.

Earlier this year, a judge ruled – citing the language used in government announcements – that private sector workers in British Columbia who worked on the day of the late monarch’s funeral would not be paid overtime.

"Neither level of government declared the day as a holiday for anyone beyond those specified. As a result, the grievance cannot succeed," read a ruling from Randall Noonan, arbitrator at British Columbia's labour arbitration board.

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