Canada: Les droits de l'employeur pendant une campagne de syndicalisation : plus importants qu'on ne le croit! |L'Espace RH

Last Updated: August 25 2017
Article by Karine Fournier and Valérie Gareau-Dalpé

Au Québec comme ailleurs au Canada, lorsqu'un syndicat dépose une requête en accréditation afin de représenter un groupe d'employés, l'employeur n'est pas paralysé et sans moyens. Il peut poursuivre ses activités de façon habituelle et dispose de plusieurs moyens pour contester une telle requête, dont la contestation de l'unité syndicale proposée par le syndicat. L'employeur a toutefois le lourd fardeau de démontrer non pas qu'il existe une unité plus appropriée que celle proposée par le syndicat, mais bien que l'unité proposée est tout simplement inappropriée dans le contexte particulier de l'entreprise. À l'opposé, si le syndicat dépose une requête en ingérence et entrave pour contester une décision prise par l'employeur suite au dépôt de la requête, le syndicat aura le fardeau de démontrer que la décision de l'employeur est entachée par de l'antisyndicalisme.

Dans une décision d'intérêt rendue très récemment1, le Tribunal administratif du travail du Québec (le « Tribunal ») est venu réaffirmer les principes entourant la contestation d'un tel libellé, le tout en rejetant du même coup une plainte pour ingérence et entrave en vertu du Code du travail (le « Code »).

Les faits

Le 21 septembre 2016, l'Alliance internationale des employés de scène et de théâtre, des techniciens de l'image, des artistes et des métiers connexes des États-Unis, ses territoire et du Canada (I.A.T.S.E.) section locale 56 (« IATSE »), déposait trois requêtes en accréditation afin de représenter les employés de Solotech inc. (« Solotech »), une entreprise qui se spécialise dans l'industrie du spectacle et du divertissement au Québec et au États-Unis. Par ces requêtes, IATSE cherchait à accréditer trois unités de négociation distinctes : (1) les techniciens d'atelier et de réparation, (2) les techniciens affectés aux spectacles en tournées, et (3) les techniciens affectés aux évènements locaux. Solotech a contesté la composition des unités de négociation demandées au motif qu'une unité englobant l'ensemble des employés visés s'avérait la seule unité appropriée, en raison de la nature particulière de ses activités.

Il importe de préciser que ces requêtes en accréditation, déposées en urgence, faisaient suite à la décision prise par Solotech de céder en sous-traitance son service de transport qui comptait huit chauffeurs, lesquels étaient récemment syndiqués auprès d'IATSE.

Quelques semaines plus tard, IATSE déposait également une plainte pour ingérence et entrave. Selon IATSE, la sous-traitance du service de transport constituait une mesure visant à intimider les autres salariés et à miner la campagne syndicale qu'il menait depuis l'automne 2015.

Le caractère inapproprié des unités proposées

Le Tribunal reconnaît d'emblée l'existence d'une communauté d'intérêts entre les groupes d'employés visés par les requêtes. Toutefois, malgré que les différents techniciens n'exécutaient pas leur travail dans les mêmes conditions physiques et qu'ils n'avaient pas le même statut d'emploi et les mêmes conditions de travail, la preuve démontrait de façon prépondérante que (i) ces techniciens exerçaient le même type de fonctions, (ii) les qualifications requises pour occuper l'un ou l'autre de ces postes étaient les mêmes et (iii) il y avait interdépendance et interchangeabilité entre ces différentes fonctions.

À cet égard, le Tribunal estimait déterminant le fait que la nature des opérations de Solotech nécessitait un bassin de techniciens mobiles et disponibles rapidement. Dans ce contexte, le Tribunal conclut qu'une unité ne visant qu'une partie de ce bassin serait inappropriée puisqu'elle « exclu[rait] de sa portée intentionnelle des salariés qui ont de fréquents contacts entre eux, qui occupent des emplois interdépendants et interreliés et qui sont susceptibles d'être déplacés d'une catégorie de personnel à l'autre ». 

L'absence d'ingérence ou d'entrave

Appliquant les principes établis par la Cour suprême du Canada dans les affaires Wal-Mart2, le Tribunal conclut qu'hormis d'avoir démontré la concomitance entre l'obtention de l'accréditation par les chauffeurs et l'annonce par Solotech de sa décision de sous-traiter le transport local, IATSE ne s'était pas déchargé de son fardeau d'établir que la décision contestée était entachée par de l'antisyndicalisme.

À cet égard, le Tribunal accepte que la décision de Solotech était liée à la nécessité de dégager des sommes additionnelles pour l'achat de nouveaux équipements dans une période de croissance exponentielle. Le Tribunal retient également l'argument de Solotech suivant lequel un employeur a le droit de restructurer une partie de son entreprise en vue d'atteindre de meilleurs résultats, et non pas uniquement lorsque celle-ci connait des difficultés financières. Bref, la sous-traitance des activités de transport avait été prise « dans le cours normal des affaires ».

Conclusions

Cette décision rappelle d'abord la possibilité pour un employeur de contester la composition d'une unité d'accréditation qu'elle juge inappropriée eu égard à ses activités et particularités d'affaires. Elle constitue également un cas d'application intéressant du critère du « business as usual » dans la réalité d'une entreprise en plein essor. En effet, elle démontre qu'une entreprise peut non seulement continuer ses activités habituelles pendant cette période, mais aussi prendre des décisions importantes quant à sa croissance et l'organisation de ses activités.

Footnotes

L'Alliance internationale des employés de scène et de théâtre, des techniciens de l'image, des artistes et des métiers connexes des États-Unis, ses territoires et du Canada (IATSE), section locale 56 et Solotech inc. (PDF).

2  Plourde c. Compagnie Wal-Mart du Canada Inc. (PDF), Travailleurs et travailleuses unis de l'alimentation et du commerce, section locale 503 c. Compagnie Wal Mart du Canada (PDF).

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