Commissionaires fight overtime pay order
Commissionaires Nova Scotia is appealing a Federal Court of Canada order that it must pay federal overtime and holidays to more than 100 commissionaires at Halifax's Stanfield International Airport, CBC News has learned
It's all because of David Crouse, a retired Mountie living in East Chester, who worked at the airport as a commissionaire from 2007 to 2010.
Until he fought it, commissionaires had been paid under less generous provincial labour standards.
"It appeared to me to be an injustice," Crouse told CBC News.
Crouse argued that since the Halifax airport is a federal workplace he was entitled to the benefits of the Canada Labour Code, which offers more statutory holidays. Overtime is paid after an employee works 40 hours, compared to 48 under Nova Scotia law.
In February, Crouse and his union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) prevailed at the Federal Court of Canada hearing.
"Commissionaires Nova Scotia (CNS) employees were, at all times employed in connection with federal work" and entitled to pay under the Canada Labour Code, Judge Richard Boivin ruled on Feb. 3.
Boivin overturned an earlier referee's decision to pay at provincial rates on the grounds it "amounts to confirming a contracting out of minimum standards."
In the case of Crouse, his back pay for federal overtime is $1,801.22.
Commissionaires Nova Scotia is not talking about the case.
"I have spoken with CNS legal counsel and I have been advised that it would not be appropriate for CNS to comment on this matter, while it is before the courts," CEO Mike Brownlow told CBC News in an e-mail.
Eleven days after Crouse won at the Federal Court of Canada, the Commissionaires appealed the ruling.
"I was somewhat surprised when I found out the Corp of Commissionaires was appealing it further," Crouse said.
"But I guess you have to understand there is a substantial amount of money involved. They are doing what they feel is right. I am perfectly willing to accept whatever the court decides."
PSAC said this a precedent setting case. A recent collective agreement between CNS and the union left a clause blank pending the outcome of the Crouse case.
As for Crouse, he accepted a layoff at the end of December.
"To me, it's just a matter of principle at this point," he said. "I'll accept any money that I have coming to me, but I think at this point you can't let it go. You have to go to the end of the road."