Halifax (City of) v Halifax Civic Workers Union

Document Type

Arbitration Decision

Publication Date



Separate Grievances, Incentive, Overtime, Contracting Out, Suspensions, Res Judicata, Issue Estoppel


The arbitration concerned sixty-six separate grievances. During the 1970's the City had streamlined its garbage collection system based on an incentive system. The incentive was that Employees were paid for an eight hour shift, but could leave as soon as the work was completed. The average completion time was 2:30 whereas the shift ended at 5:00. At the end of 1981, without prior consultation with the Union, the City reduced the number of crews from nine to seven. The City expected that this would result in an average completion time of 3:30, but overlooked several relevant factors in its calculations. When the seven crew system started the garbage was not fully collected by 5:00. This was in part due to a work to rule and slowdown by the garbage men and in part due to the inherent consequences of a reduction to seven crews. Initially, the garbage men worked overtime, but after a few days refused overtime unless all seven crews were assured of overtime. The overtime provision read, "except as specified elsewhere, whenever possible overtime shall be on a voluntary basis." The City did not attempt to get other eligible Employees to work overtime. Instead, the City responded by contracting out the garbage collection not completed by 5:00. Also, the garbage men were refused snow removal overtime to which they had ordinarily been entitled. The next development was that the garbage men were given direct orders to complete work by 5:00, and to work overtime if not finished. The work was not finished by 5:00 and the men refused overtime. Disciplinary suspensions were imposed for violation of both orders. On subsequent days the same orders were given with the same results. Longer suspensions were imposed for defiance of the order to complete work by 5:00 (i.e. no mention of refusal of overtime). The overtime work was contracted out. The Union grieved: that the disciplinary suspensions for failure to finish work by 5:00 were imposed without just cause; that the disciplinary suspensions for refusing overtime were imposed without just cause; that the garbage men were improperly denied snow removal overtime; that the overtime had been unequally distributed; that the City had improperly contracted out. The City grieved that the Union breached the no strike clause. The City raised a plea of res judicata or issue estoppel against the Union's grievances because there had previously been a dispute arising from the reduction of crews which the Union had abandoned. The City also pleaded that by refusing garbage collection overtime, the Union was stopped from alleging improper denial of snow removal overtime.


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