Canada: Conflit De Travail À La Société De Transport De L'outaouais : Absence De Services Essentiels Et Préavis De Grève Valide

Le Conseil canadien des relations industrielles (le « Conseil ») a récemment publié deux décisions d'intérêt dans le contexte du conflit de travail opposant la Société de transport de l'Outaouais à son syndicat, le Syndicat uni du transport, section locale 0591. La Société de transport de l'Outaouais est le réseau de transport de la région de l'Outaouais et est un employeur de juridiction fédérale.

La première décision portait sur une demande visant le maintien de certains services durant une grève ou un lock-out, et la seconde traitait de la validité d'un préavis de grève dans le cas où aucune grève générale n'était déclenchée 72 heures suivant la communication du préavis.

Services essentiels

L'employeur a présenté au Conseil une demande en vue d'obtenir de sa part qu'il déclare que le transport régulier et les services de transport scolaire intégrés sur l'ensemble de son territoire doivent être maintenus en périodes de pointe du lundi au vendredi, entre 6 h et 9 h, puis entre 14 h 30 et 18 h.

À l'appui de sa demande, l'employeur a présenté le témoignage de trois experts, le premier un spécialiste des services de gestion du trafic et de planification du transport, le deuxième un médecin en santé publique et le troisième un psychologue et professeur. L'employeur a fait valoir qu'en cas de grève, et en l'absence des services précités offerts aux heures de pointe, le délai d'intervention des services ambulanciers et des services d'incendie serait allongé au point de mettre en danger la santé et la sécurité du public.

Le Conseil a rejeté la demande de l'employeur et rendu une décision sommaire, c.-à-d. sans fournir de motifs. Même s'il communiquera ses motifs plus tard, le Conseil a néanmoins indiqué que le traitement, d'autres questions d'intérêt général susceptibles de découler d'un conflit de travail ne faisait pas partie de son mandat. À son avis, en cas de grève ou de lock-out, le maintien des services identifiés par l'employeur n'est pas nécessaire pour prévenir un risque imminent et grave pour la santé et la sécurité du public, ce qui est le critère à respecter selon le Code canadien du travail . Par conséquent, une grève ou un lock-out peut être déclenché en toute légalité sans qu'aucun service ne soit maintenu par l'employeur.

Le Conseil a précisé que, en cas d'arrêt de travail et si les circonstances le justifiaient, une nouvelle demande pouvait lui être présentée pour qu'il réexamine sa décision.

Validité du préavis de grève

Suite à cette décision, le conseil dû se prononcer sur la question de savoir si un préavis de grève donné par le syndicat était valide pour une grève générale limitée lorsque les mesures de grève déjà mises en Suvre faisaient appel à d'autres méthodes et tactiques.

Selon le Code canadien du travail, avant qu'il puisse déclencher une grève en toute légalité, un syndicat doit donner à l'employeur un préavis d'au moins 72 heures pour l'informer de la date à laquelle la grève sera déclenchée (art. 87.2(1)). De plus, à défaut de déclencher une grève à la date indiquée dans le préavis, le syndicat doit donner un nouveau préavis d'au moins 72 heures s'il souhaite toujours déclencher la grève (art. 87.2(3)).

En l'espèce, le syndicat a donné son préavis le 16 janvier 2017 et, le 20 janvier suivant, il a mis en branle divers moyens de pression, qu'il a depuis maintenus de façon ininterrompue. Sans fournir de nouveau préavis, le syndicat a annoncé qu'il déclencherait une grève générale limitée le 16 mars 2017. L'employeur a alors déposé une demande en vue d'obtenir une ordonnance de grève illégale au motif que le syndicat ne lui avait pas donné un nouveau préavis de grève. Selon l'employeur, le but du préavis de grève est de donner à l'autre partie suffisamment de temps pour mettre en place des mesures alternatives appropriées, et, bien qu'une grève « partielle » durait depuis le 20 janvier 2017, l'absence d'un nouveau préavis de grève allait à l'encontre de l'objectif du Code canadien du travail, à savoir donner à l'employeur un délai raisonnable pour lui permettre de mettre en place des mesures de sauvegarde appropriées et d'en aviser les utilisateurs du réseau de transport en commun.

Le Conseil a rejeté la demande de l'employeur. Il a estimé que le préavis de grève du 16 janvier 2017 était valide et s'étendait à la grève générale annoncée. Là encore, compte tenu de l'urgence de l'affaire, le Conseil a rendu une décision sommaire, sans fournir de motifs. Bien qu'aucun motif n'ait été communiqué, cette décision signifie que, dès lors qu'un syndicat a mis en branle des mesures de grève concertées, peu importe la forme qu'elles puissent prendre, aucun nouveau préavis de grève n'est requis pour déclencher une grève générale. Conformément au Code canadien du travail, un nouveau préavis de grève n'est requis que lorsqu'aucune mesure de grève n'a été prise à la date indiquée dans le préavis initial. Par conséquent, les employeurs devront être conscients de cette possibilité et établir leur plan de contingence en conséquence.

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