Court Considers Safety, Fatigue Of Replacement Workers In Granting Picketing Injunction
20, July 20, 2015 - Filed in: Court Cases
In Cascade Aerospace Inc. v. Unifor (Local 114), 2014 BCSC 1461, a British Columbia judge has considered an employer's concerns for the safety of replacement workers, in granting an injunction against picketing workers.
The employer and Unifor were in a labour dispute. Unifor was picketing the employer's place of business. In an affidavit submitted on the company's motion for an injunction, a company manager expressed concern over the safety of the replacement workers due to fatigue:
"In addition to the financial consequences of these increased delays and of greater concern to Cascade are the potential health and safety consequences for CanJet and Trenton personnel. It is very rare that we schedule our production work force for 12 hour days for a significant number of days in a row. The reason this is rare is because of a concern we have for the health and safety of the workers due to fatigue. These workers are repairing complex commercial aircraft and are working with complex tools and equipment. During the course of their duties, they are operating flight controls and doing high-skilled professional work that without due diligence could result in significant damage to the aircraft and/or serious injury to personnel. During the time that the bus is stopped when trying to enter or exit the facility, these personnel cannot simply rest as they are constantly subject to picketers yelling, tapping and scraping their picket signs on the bus and peering through the windows of the bus, sometimes with cameras. I have serious concerns that the number of hours these workers are spending at work and on their way to and from work due to the increased delays in crossing the picket line could lead to exhaustion and a serious work place accident."
Madam Justice Sharma of the B.C. Supreme Court stated that, "In all the circumstances, I find that there is urgency to this application because of the health and safety concerns of the people working for Cascade." She added, "It is clear that Cascade may suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted. I am particularly concerned by the escalation of matters since this matter started."
The employer was therefore entitled to a temporary injunction prohibiting the union members from "blocking, hindering, delaying or obstructing".
Note: This a reprint of an article by Adrian Miedema of Dentons (Canada) LLP.