Collective refusal to work overtime in Fort McMurray deemed illegal

Collective refusal to work overtime in Fort McMurray deemed illegal

Scaffolders work at various Suncor, Syncrude and CNOOC mining facilities north of Fort McMurray, Alberta

The Alberta Labor Relations Board rules in favor of AlumaSafway Inc. in its complaint against scaffolders in Fort McMurray, Alberta, who collectively refused to work overtime starting on August 22.

According to the Board's decision, an anonymous letter had been circulated urging workers not to accept any overtime requests beginning Monday, August 22. The aim was to put pressure on the employer to convince him to increase wages and improve working conditions.

The employees concerned are unionized and have a collective agreement, the General Presidents Maintenance Agreement (GMPA).

No request for overtime has been accepted by a scaffolder since August 22, a situation deemed abnormal on construction sites Suncor, Syncrude in Mildred Lake and CNOCC in Long Lake.

AlumaSafway Inc. filed a complaint with the Board, alleging a violation of the Alberta Labor Code.

In its August 25 decision, the Board of labor relations calls on the workers to immediately cease what it considers to be an illegal strike since it involves concerted action to force an employer to accept new working conditions, when there is a collective agreement, which which violates article 71 of the Labor Code.

Workers must not engage in any collective action that could harm their employer for the purpose of pressuring the employer under penalty of contempt of court.

Derrick Schulte, executive secretary of the Alberta Regional Council of Carpenters and Allied Workers (ACAW), says guys aren't turning down overtime anymore.

However, their grievances remain unresolved. According to Derrick Schulte, AlumaSafway employees complain of working excessive hours, not receiving enough time off, and being paid a salary that does not adequately compensate them for time away from family.

It's been a while, he said. He notes that the last increase was in November 2019, an increase of $0.47 an hour.

The union says it is working with the employer and owners of mining facilities to find a solution.

A spokesperson for AlumaSafway says in an email that the company fully supports the success of its employees and is working positively to resolve concerns.

University of Alberta law professor Eric Adams believes it was the letter that was the deciding factor in the Alberta Labor Relations Board's decision. The fact that all the workers refused to work overtime and that a letter urging them to do so turned an individual action into a collective action, according to him.

It is a subtle distinction, says Eric Adams. Collective activities must occur in the workplace, but within very limited parameters when a collective agreement is in force.

It clarifies that according to the collective agreement, workers cannot refuse working overtime for no valid reason, such as difficulty finding daycare. However, he indicates that the Commission's decision does not specify that an employee is obliged to agree to do so. Employees can refuse individually depending on the circumstances.

As for the compensation requests desired by the workers, it is agreed that they will have to wait for the negotiation of the next agreement collective to get some.

With information from Jamie Malbeuf.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous post Putin will not attend Mikhail Gorbachev's funeral
Next post Ukrainian civilians forcibly moved to Russia