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Mission Hill winery staff in West Kelowna tried hard to get another holiday

Mission Hill Winery
Mission Hill Winery
Image Credit: FACEBOOK: Mission Hill Winery

Staff at a West Kelowna winery have failed to get the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a day off work, due to the word "and" and not "or" being used in their collective agreement.

A B.C. Labour Relations Arbitrator found that if the collective agreement used the word "or" instead of "and" staff at the Mission Hill Vineyards and Wine Store would have been entitled to a paid day off.

According to a Feb. 10 B.C. Labour Relations Code decision, the Service Employees' International Union representing staff at the winery believed the new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday would apply to its members.

The Federal Government introduced the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday for employees within the federal jurisdiction starting Sept. 30, 2021.

The B.C. government, however, didn't declare the day as a provincial statutory holiday.

When management at Mission Hill Vineyards refused to give staff the day off, the union appealed the move pointing to what was written in the employees' collective agreement.

The union argued the collective agreement says that staff are entitled to the day off on 12 statutory holidays plus, "all other Statutory Holidays as may be declared by the B.C. Provincial 'and' Federal Governments."

As the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a new statutory holiday, the union argued this meant winery staff would now get this day off.

However, the winery argued the wording of the collective agreement stated the holiday had to be declared by the provincial government "and" the federal government.

Management at Mission Hill pointed out that only the federal government had declared it a statutory holiday and not both levels of government.

The union argued Mission Hill should interpret the collective agreement to apply to any statutory holiday declared by either the provincial or federal governments.

However, the winery refused.

Mission Hill submitted case law dating back to 1862 that stated the word "or" cannot be substituted for the word "and."

The winery also cites numerous contemporary arbitration cases where employers and employees have argued about the terms "and" and "or" in their collective agreements.

Ultimately, the arbitrator sided with the winery.

"It is a fundamental principle of collective agreement interpretation that ordinary words should be given their plain and ordinary meaning," the decision reads. "Applying the plain and ordinary meaning of the word 'and,' I find that both the provincial and federal governments must declare any new statutory holiday for it to meet the requirements negotiated in (the collective agreement). National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not added to the current list of statutory holidays in the collective agreement."

With that, the union lost its appeal and staff will now have to go to work on Sept. 30.

READ MORE: How much is that Airbnb? Vast differences between Kamloops, Kelowna

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