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".
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