Elk Falls Workers

Campbell River B.C.

More severance information?

Ian and myself had a very weird discussion with Vern Phillips today. We were asking about how the Company was going to deal with people on Friday, and when employees would be able to find out how much they are owed in severance. Vern told us that they wouldn’t be told until after they had indicated whether they want to sever or not. When we asked how people could possibly make this kind of life changing decision without all the information he replied that they could figure it out by themselves by multiplying their hourly wage by the weeks they are owed. I asked how people could have any confidence in the rate they will be paid since the company in the last year on a number of occasions has reinterpreted the collective agreement on what rate employees get paid for holidays and floaters. His response was if they figure out their severance on base rate they wouldn’t be disappointed and could even be pleasantly surprised if they get a severance cheque that is higher than what they expect.

We pushed back and he said he heard our point, and that he would bring our concerns up and try to get an answer for Thursday. Frankly I was absolutely astounded, anytime  I talk to anyone in the company I am more frustrated with their attitude. It’s like they don’t feel there are any rules that apply to them. I am slowly coming to the opinion that there is no-one that can save this company from themselves.

Update Vern Philips called this afternoon to say they’ve reconsidered their position, and will now be telling people the amount of severance they will be eligible to receive before they sign up for it. They say the issue is all around privacy concerns, so now it sounds like they will only be allowing 3 or 4 people at a time into the conference room, and once someone leaves, another person will be allowed in.

We’ve also been told that form people will be required to sign will include a waiver that states you are releasing Catalyst from all actions, claims, and demands you may have against them.  We have informed the Company that we disagree with them taking rights away from people, just because they want to exercise their contractual rights to take a severance.  People may think this doesn’t effect them, but anyone who has an ongoing grievance, or is impacted by the upcoming arbitration over how the Company unilaterally dropped peoples’ card rate down to base rate could be caught up in this…   We have received legal advise and will be launching another grievance over this.  But I would suggest that people black out the offending language on their severance application, or at the very least write “signed under duress” on the page.  We expect to have a meeting tommorrow to review the documents they will be asking people to sign, but I don’t expect they will be willing to make any changes.  –  Ian

February 24, 2010 Posted by | - Mill News | 8 Comments