Sask. labour board lets Saskatoon pension plan stand

Watch above: The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board is allowing changes to the City of Saskatoon’s pension plan stand. But, Meaghan Craig says there is a cost associated to its decision because the changes were implemented during a transit dispute.

SASKATOON-  The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board has ruled that pension changes made by the City of Saskatoon during the transit lockout were “inappropriate.” Both the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 615 and the City of Saskatoon faced off on Friday as part of a hearing on whether or not pension changes should be reversed.

The board, made up of a panel of three, ruled not to set aside the pension bylaw changes made by city council in September during a time when transit workers were locked out.

READ MORE: Lockout continues, halt ordered to further changes in Saskatoon Transit pension plan

The ruling is considered a small victory by the union.

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“Certainly that is what we wanted is a declaration that those changes that were made, not just the lockout but the changes were against the law,” said Gary Bainbridge, the labour lawyer for the ATU.

Changes the board ruled would not be reversed after a morning of further submissions by both parties.

“Rather they were reading the bylaw down with respect to the period when their applications pending so they’re were reading the bylaw down with respect the period between June 3, 2014 and Oct. 3, 2014 which was the period of time that they found the statutory freeze to be in effect,” said City Solicitor Patricia Warwick.

According to Warwick, for that period of time members of the ATU must be treated as though the bylaw had not been passed.

“Any increase to contribution rates which would otherwise be payable during the statutory freeze period would not be payable by members of the ATU.”

“The pension plan is different today as result of that bylaw than it was prior to the lockout so it may affect them not today and it may affect them not tomorrow but in 10 years when they retire there will be a change,” added Bainbridge.

On Feb. 5, both parties are scheduled for negotiations on financial compensation to be paid to the union for the illegal lockout. If an agreement cannot be reached the board has the jurisdiction to intervene.

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READ MORE: Labour board rules Saskatoon Transit lockout illegal

“Hopefully, we’re going to get this behind us and get back to generally bargaining. This has burned off three or four months just as a result of the lockout and they have not been talking about the contract. It’s all been this lockout business so my client wants to get to the table and try to put this away because this has been a long one,” explained Bainbridge.

“We would be very anxious and happy to reach a contract that is suitable and reasonable and comparable to the contacts that have been reached with our other unions.”

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