No obligation to follow informal agreement with union indefinitely: Board

Long-time oral agreement for shift schedule was never incorporated into collective agreement
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/23/2009

A British Columbia company can change an informal arrangement on shift length and paid lunch breaks it had followed for several years because the terms hadn’t been bargained into the collective agreement, the British Columbia Labour Relations Board has ruled.

Sun Rype Products was a manufacturer of fruit juice and snack products based in Kelowna, B.C., that had a unionized workforce. For many years, Sun Rype employees worked on a three-shift schedule for eight hours per shift. Each shift included a 30 minute paid lunch break and seven-and-one-half hours worked. Before the company implemented the three-shift rotation, employees worked on a one- or two-shift schedule that featured eight-and-one-half-hour shifts consisting of eight hours of work and an unpaid one-half-hour lunch break, according to the collective agreement.