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cross training ok – flexible work practices
November 19, 2000

A recent arbitration award dismissed a grievance by the PPWC, Local 9 alleging that Canfor’s direction to have journeymen millwrights trained and certified to perform structural welding was in contravention of the Letter of Understanding on flexible work practices.

The training in dispute was a result of module training that was part of the flexible work practices. Canfor’s “millwrights-module 2 training” requires employees to achieve Canadian Welding Bureau certification for structural welding. The CWB requires employees performing such welding to be trained and tested as suitably qualified. The CWB also requires companies to become certified, meaning they all employ suitably qualified welders, welding supervisors and adhere to certain standards as established by the Canadian Welding Bureau. CWB certifications are also required under the B.C. Building Code and the City of Prince George.

The PPWC submitted that Canfor cannot compel millwrights to obtain CWB certification to perform structural welding work. Specifically, the PPWC relied upon sections 4 and 10 of the Letter of Understanding which includes a statement that the training programs are not intended to force qualification in another trade.

In dismissing the grievance, Arbitrator Vince Ready first stated that the Letter of Understanding provides for full flexibility and that full flexibility is restricted only by certain provisions within the Letter of Understanding. Upon examining sections 4 and 10, the arbitrator ruled that Canfor is not prohibited from training millwrights to perform structural welding. The arbitrator held that Canfor was correct that while section 4 requires specific trades to be used where required by law, it does not prohibit a millwright from being certified to do the type of structural welding that was in dispute. Similarly, while section 10 prohibits the employer from forcing dual trades, the CWB certification being sought by the employer does cause the millwrights to become welders.

Canfor was represented by Harris & Company counsel.