Telus should treat National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a full stat holiday, rather than offering half-measures

September 2, 2021 - The federal government recently made September 30th National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a statutory holiday, as a small step toward reconciliation with the First Peoples of Canada. It is intended as a day off from work that we can use to learn and grieve together as a country. 

A statutory holiday has a simple definition for all workers, Unionized or not: You either don’t work it and get paid for the day off, or you do work it and get an additional holiday premium of at least 1.5x your pay. This premium pay gives an incentive for the employer to have a minimum staff working, as the idea behind a holiday is that work is kept to a minimum, to commemorate the important occasion.
However, Telus has just announced that they are not treating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a full stat holiday for Appendix A members (BC and Alberta, excluding Competitive Operator Services) but rather will follow the following policy:
  1. Some members will receive the day off with pay, at management’s discretion (naturally it is uncertain if this will be a significant portion of members)
  2. Some members will be asked to work on the holiday and rather than receiving holiday premium pay, they will receive straight time pay and a day off at some other point in the year, as mutually agreed to with management
  3. If you already had the day off, you don’t receive any stat holiday pay, or any other day off, as you would have if you had a stat holiday as a scheduled day off. In this scenario, you get nothing.
Nothing in this policy announcement compels or incentivizes the company to have a reduced workforce on the holiday. Rather, having many members off on September 30th (Thursday) may well be considered by the employer to be less in accord with business needs than having days off in lieu scattered throughout the year. The only thing that is certain is that anyone working on the Thursday will get a day off at another time in the year, which is not really the point of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
For Telus Appendix B (East) and Appendix C (Competitive Operator Services) the company is recognizing the statutory holiday fully as they are legally required to do, and this is what the Union believes Telus should do for Appendix A (West) members. However, the company has the legal ability to not recognize the holiday fully for Appendix A workers due to the fact that Appendix A already includes a greater number of holidays than are present in the Canada Labour Code (a legal technicality).
Frankly, it seems that this policy was designed more to keep Telus out of the news than to commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which would be best, and most simply, accomplished by treating Appendix A members like Appendix B and C members by having the day treated like any other statutory holiday, with members receiving either a day off or a holiday pay premium for working it.
In Solidarity,
USW Local 1944