Junior employees bump most senior staffer’s request for time off

Most senior Bell worker denied accommodation
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 10/06/2014

A weekend is a privilege for many workers, like Shawn Cowan, a telecommunications subcontractor who was denied a Saturday off.

Cowan, a full-time technician working for Bell in St. Catharines, Ont., was denied his request for a Saturday off for a planned cross-border shopping trip to the United States with his family. The complication arose when Cowan, the most senior employee in his area, was denied the request to accommodate more junior employees — a move he and Unifor Local 43 (for which he was president) called unwarranted and a violation of the collective agreement.

Being a technician requires a specific skill set for installation and repair work in the area. In St. Catharines, Bell also hired a variety of part-time and full-time subcontractors. None of the teams had explicit provisions defining scheduling hours and days of work. Instead, the collective agreement dictated that when "the team is unable to come to an agreement, seniority shall apply according to the requirements of the job."