Quebec media company must comply with collective agreement

Employees are entitled to severance pay three years after layoff: Court of Appeal
||Last Updated: 05/31/2011

A Quebec-based media corporation is responsible forupholding the conditions of the collective agreement of the employees it laidoff shortly after acquiring a TV station from the previous employer, theFederal Court of Appeal has ruled.

In April 2008, Remstar Corp. announced its acquisition ofTQS, a Quebec television network. Remstar notified staff that news-basedprogramming would be eliminated and layoffs would occur.

Remstar claimed that because the acquisition of TQS was notfully complete, it simply acted as temporary manager of the station. Accordingto the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Remstar claimed that currentemployees were creditors of TQS, which would entitle them to only about 20 percent of the amount of the provisions outlined in the collective agreement.

CUPE first challenged Remstar in September 2009 before theCanada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), which ruled in favour of the union.Remstar requested a review of the CIRB decision, but the Board confirmed itsdecision in July 2010. Remstar then took the case to the Federal Court ofAppeal, which dismissed their case yesterday.

Remstar hasn’t commented on the case, but it must eitherseek leave to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Canada or adhere to thejudgment. Should this occur, Remstar is required to pay full severance benefitsto the 340 employees the company originally laid off.

CUPE Local 3946 represents 60 of the former employees, whilethe Confédération des syndicats nationaux represents the others.

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