Each of the NBU/NUPGE`s ten collective agreements for Members participating in Part I (Administrative Assistants, Clerical and Regulatory, Education Non Instructional, Education Non Instructional, Engineering – Field, Highway Supervisors, ITCO, Laboratory – Medical, Resource Services and Technical Inspection) has some form of redundancy protection. The government had refused to respect the language of the collective agreement and, throughout the litigation, insisted that it conflict with the Public Service Act. The Union considered that the law and provisions of collective agreements could be read and “harmonized” so that the employer could fulfil the obligations arising from collective agreements. “… the implied obligation for the parties to negotiate their collective agreements in good faith has its origin in the provisions of the Public Service Labour Relations Act. The province, as an employer, must meet this obligation by being informed of the prohibition against accepting provisions that are contrary to the terms and conditions of employment under the Public Service Act. Nevertheless, the province continues to enter into collective agreements that contain provisions for the rights of service and authorization of their unionized public servants. In these circumstances, it is reasonable for the adjudicators to conclude that the province must have negotiated these rights on the basis on which they were significant and could be enforceable. The Union is pleased to have won a victory in the highest court in the province, after obtaining the appeal decision and the Court of Queen`s Bench. “We are pleased that our tariff language has been respected. Seniority rights are fundamental for trade unions and the Court`s ruling underlines the importance of collective bargaining commitments, so this is a very important victory for us,” said Susie Proulx-Daigle, President of the NBU/NUPGE.
The litigation began with complaints filed in 2009 on behalf of some members of the Resource Services Bargaining Unit, which were argued by NBU/NUPGE, Industrial Relations Coordinator Leigh Sprague, who also represented NBU/NUPGE on this issue at both levels of the tribunal. At that time, a program had been scaled back by the Department of Natural Resources, which, despite the collective agreement, refused to “wander” to the executives involved. The Court of Appeal`s decision, written by Honorary Justice Robertson, underscores the importance of the negotiated language of the collective agreement: the court has issued a ruling in favour of the NBU/NUPGE in a dispute over the protection of seniority layoffs. In the decision upholding the earlier judgments of the appeal decision and the Court of Justice, the Court held that the provincial government must respect the negotiated safeguards. Fredericton (August 10, 2012) – The New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBU/NUPGE) welcomes a decision of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.