When the request was initially refused,
union officials were incredulous that management would deliberately
flout a directive from debt-ridden owner CanWest Global Communications
Corp. to grant such unpaid leaves as a cost-saving measure.
The Victoria-Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild (VVING) took
the matter to expedited arbitration on March 11, arguing
that it was a violation of the contract.
Chris Carolan, president of the Local,
says the employer had cited disruption of the editorial department
as one reason for denying the desker's request last November.
When the desker made the request to take off the month of
February, only one other copy editor was scheduled for two
days off during that time.
In a brief verbal ruling yesterday following a second day
of hearings on the weekend, arbitrator Stan Lanyon agreed
with the union and ordered that the desker be allowed to
start his one-month leave immediately. Lanyon's written decision
with full details will follow shortly.
"During these difficult financial times for CanWest,
the wasting of Times-Colonist profit (and Guild money) on
an unnecessary arbitration flies in the face of sound financial
practices," says the VVING executive in a statement.
With the prospect of bankruptcy
looming, a major restructuring
is expected at CanWest, which is facing an April 7 deadline
on debt negotiations and an April 14 deadline for a missed
interest payment on $761-million of subordinated notes.