In reviewing the specific language of Article 17.1, the Arbitrator found that pensioner benefits were an “existing, specially provided and continuous” article. There was no doubt that the pension benefits were “existing” at the time of the negotiation of the current collective agreement. They have also been made available “specifically” as part of the relevant Council regulation. They also went “further” because, at the time of the negotiation of the current collective agreement, no action was announced or taken to terminate or amend these benefits. The associations considered that section 17.1 provides for the maintenance of all benefits, including post-retirement benefits, for the duration of the collective agreement. The fact that pensioner benefits have not been negotiated before and have been provided by Council decisions does not matter, he said. If the employer wanted to change pension benefits, they were required to do so in negotiations. In this regard, the associations stated that the framework agreement governing collective bargaining between the parties allowed the issue of post-retirement benefits to be negotiated and referred to the interest rate-setting process. Finally, the Arbitrator found that post-retirement benefits fell within the jurisdiction of an arbitration panel to be awarded and found that the framework agreement did not exclude pensioners` benefits from the scope of Section 17.1.
He concluded that this meant that pensioner benefits were allowed to be the subject of collective bargaining. They also fell into cases that could be referred to an arbitration tribunal of interest. The Adjudicator then considered whether pensioner benefits fell within the scope of section 17.1. He rejected the employer`s argument that he did not want such benefits to fall within the scope of section 17.1, since benefits were never negotiated after retirement. He noted that when the previous version of section 17.1 was first included in the collective agreement in 2000, retired lawyers have long since received and continue to receive the same benefits as other retired government employees. The associations therefore had no reason to address the issue during the negotiations.