Quebec media company must comply with collective agreement

Employees are entitled to severance pay three years after layoff: Court of Appeal

A Quebec-based media corporation is responsible for upholding the conditions of the collective agreement of the employees it laid off shortly after acquiring a TV station from the previous employer, the Federal Court of Appeal has ruled.

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

Remstar claimed that because the acquisition of TQS was not fully complete, it simply acted as temporary manager of the station. According to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Remstar claimed that current employees were creditors of TQS, which would entitle them to only about 20 per cent of the amount of the provisions outlined in the collective agreement.

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

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

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

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