Report by Patrick Sioui, Outgoing President, Montréal Centre Branch – 2019

Report by Patrick Sioui, Outgoing President, Montréal Centre Branch – 2019

Representation of all AFS members in the Quebec Region

The difference between a Sub-Group and Branch is that the Sub-Group is part of the National AFS Group while the Branch is part of the Quebec Region.  The Montréal Centre Branch represents all AFS members on the island of Montréal.  If there is no Sub-Group in a workplace, the Branch can ensure representation of the members in that workplace.

Employee Wellness Program

In the last collective agreement, the employer and the AFS Group agreed on a memorandum of understanding (Appendix L).  The Montréal Centre Branch held an information evening on the new program.  We tried to organize a lunch and learn with a labour expert on this file but, unfortunately, all submissions are awaiting final settlement.

Negotiations are going well in that respect. The amendments will be made to the collective agreement.  You will have the last word on the amendments by voting for or against them in the vote on the agreement.

Harassment and violence in the workplace 

A bit later this evening, Carole Pronovost will speak to us about this particularly difficult issue.  Ms. Pronovost is an Executive member of the Montréal Centre Branch and we benefit from her broad expertise in this area.  There are many things to come concerning this matter, both this year and in the future.


One of the mandates of the Montréal Centre Branch is visibility of the union in the workplace. That is why we pursued a number of related initiatives, such as the holiday coffee party at the Café Dépôt at the Complexe Desjardins, where Branch members shared their labour concerns and asked questions in an informal setting.

In addition, we were involved in four Christmas holiday parties, providing gifts and a (minimal) financial contribution. In return, the employer provided visibility for us in the workplaces.

Participation in Quebec Region projects

As I explained in the first paragraph, the Montréal Centre Branch is part of the Quebec Region, which is headed by Regional Director Yvon Brodeur.  When the concerns of Branch members need to be escalated, the Region takes the lead.  For example, if we want to present a resolution for a regional initiative (for the province), we have to bring it to Regional Council. We have a resolution we will discuss later this evening and, if approved at the meeting, will be brought to the Region at the Regional Council in May.  If approved by the Regional Council, we can then present the resolution at PIPSC’s National AGM if we wish.  That is how it is done in our union.

We also play an advisory role for our members and, as such, here is a capsule on operational requirements that we can use for a number of issues, such as leave with income averaging:

Below are some of the principles set out by arbitrators regarding operational requirements (PSLRB references are indicated in brackets after each item):

  • What constitutes operational requirements depends on each particular case. Morton (166-2-14208)
  • “Operational requirements” refer to the type of work to be performed and not the type of accounting or cost analysis conducted by the employer. Sumanik (166-2-395)
  • It is the employer’s responsibility to demonstrate that operational requirements are a valid reason to deny a benefit of the collective agreement. In fact, knowledge of operating requirements is the responsibility of the employer, who can easily obtain that information. Even more importantly, the employer has accepted this responsibility under the collective agreement and can only be released from that responsibility in exceptional circumstances. Morton (166-2-14208)
  • The employer must consider the real alternatives available regarding the use of other staff to replace an employee, rather than refusing the employee’s request for leave. West (166-2-14208)
  • One arbitrator ruled that it was not enough for the grievor to prove that co-workers were willing to do overtime in the grievor’s absence. The employer’s refusal to consider this solution does not mean that the employer unreasonably refused the leave requested by the employee. Dufresne (166-2-14582)
  • The employer cannot invoke a staffing shortage to mount artificial barriers to an otherwise legitimate requirement of the collective agreement. Just as the employer must comply with the obligation to pay overtime and standby payments in the event of an unexpected staffing deficit, the employer must also comply with the obligations under the collective agreement stipulating that it provide meals and relief breaks to the employees. Noakes (166-2-9688)
  • The employer cannot release itself from its obligations under the collective agreement solely because assuming those responsibilities would involve overtime costs. MacGregor (166-2-22489)

When a manager informs a member that they cannot have a benefit stipulated in the collective agreement on the grounds of “operational requirements,” the member must ask the employer for an explanation based on the preceding principles. If a manager invokes operational requirements, this should not be taken at face value.
Contributor: Harinder Mahil, Labour Relations Officer, Vancouver Office.

There is an abundance of regional projects and I know that the Executive of the Montréal Centre Branch will always be here to represent the interests of its members.

Thank you.

Patrick Sioui

President, Montréal Centre Branch