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New Brunswick court quashes arbitrators' ruling that random alcohol testing policy at mill was unreasonable

Jurisdiction: - New Brunswick
Sector: - Forestry

On judicial review. the New Brunswick Queens Bench court has quashed an arbitration board's ruling concerning the reasonableness of a worklace random alcohol testing policy.

In a decision issued November 16, 2009, the majority of the arbitration board had ruled that the policy was not reasonable and thus not enforceable.

The court's decision - which was issued on September 20, 2010 - has not yet been posted to publically accessible database. 

However, Toronto lawyer Dan Michaluk has been able to get his hands on the decision and has posted it on his "All About Information" blog:

Irving Pulp  & Paper, Limited v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30, 2010 NBQB 294

United Steelworkers union reaches tentative 4 year collective agreement with CONIFER

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Forestry

The United Steelworkers (USW) union issued a news release yesterday in which they reported that the BC Interior Bargaining Committee had reached a tentative collective agreement with the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations (CONIFER).

Details were not released but in general terms, the USW says that the four-year agreement, which would expire on July 1, 2013, provides for the following:  read more »

Dismissed employee can examine immediate supervisor; tort claim against affiliated company allowed to proceed

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Forestry

The decision in Higginson v. Babine Forest Products Ltd., 2010 BCSC 614, concerned pre-trial applications in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit about the following issues:

  1. which employer representative should be required to submit to an examination for discovery and
  2. the court's jurisdiction over a US company affiliated with the employer, and a claim against that company for inducing breach of the employment contract.

The plaintiff had 34 years of service and was in a managerial position at a mill when he was dismissed. He was dismissed for failing to perform his duties.

In this decision, the court determined that:  read more »

Steelworkers union launches private prosecution against Weyerhaeuser under Bill C-45 Criminal Code amendments

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Forestry

The United Steelworkers ("USW") union launched a private prosecution in BC yesterday alleging that Weyerhaeuser Company Ltd. was criminally negligent in the death of sawmill worker Lyle Hewer on November 17, 2004.

The charges are being brought pursuant to the rarely used 2004 Bill C-45 amendments to the Criminal Code, which were introduced after the deaths of 26 Nova Scotia coal miners at the Westray mine in 1992.

The amendments open the door for a corporation to be charged criminally for not meeting its workplace health and safety obligations.

According to the USW news release:

The charge is based on an allegation that Hewer died as a result of injuries incurred at Weyerhaeuser's New West Division sawmill, after following a supervisor's request to work under conditions the employer knew were hazardous. Hewer was taken to the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster where he succumbed to his injuries.  read more »

Discriminatory to dismiss for non-culpable absenteeism months before severance obligations triggered

The decision by the BC Human Rights Tribunal ("Tribunal") in USWA v. Weyerhaeuser, 2009 BCHRT 328 is important and worth reviewing for two key reasons:

  1. It re-affirms that employers can terminate the employment relationship for innocent or non-culpable absenteeism and provides some guidance on how this can be done through a formal "termination program"; and
  2. It is a reminder to employers that they can be found to have contravened human rights legislation if they treat employees on disability leave different than active employees when addressing severance entitlements at the time of a permanent closure.


The United Steel-Workers Association, Local 1-423 (the "Union") filed a representative complaint with the Tribunal alleging that four of its members (the "Employees") were discriminated against with respect to their employment, on the basis of physical and mental disability, contrary to section 13 of the BC Human Rights Code (the "Code").  read more »