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Random drug and alcohol testing ruling violates worker’s rights

September 28, 2017

Fort McMurray – Unifor is disappointed that the Alberta Court of Appeal failed to strike down random drug and alcohol testing of members at Suncor oil sands operations in Alberta, a policy the union believes is a gross violation of worker’s rights.

“This ruling supports an invasive and degrading policy that violates the fundamental rights of workers,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Safety is always our first priority but we know that random drug testing does not reduce accidents or improve safety.”

Today’s ruling comes following a long process which began in 2012, when Suncor unilaterally announced the implementation of random drug and alcohol testing in its oil sands operations. Unifor filed a grievance and in March 2014 an Arbitration Panel ruled that Suncor’s proposed random testing violated workers’ rights. Suncor applied for judicial review and in May, 2016 the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench quashed the Arbitration Decision and remitted the union’s grievance to a new arbitration panel. The union then appealed the Queen’s Bench decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal, which rendered its decision to support the previous ruling today.

“We are disappointed in today’s ruling and stand by the original Arbitration Panel finding that our members have a right to privacy, respect, and dignity in the workplace, and that random testing is not justified,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor Western Regional Director.

The union vowed to continue in its fight against random testing. “We will take all available action to fight this abusive policy, including a potential motion to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Ken Smith, President of Local 707A.

A comprehensive drug and alcohol policy is already in effect at Suncor that includes post-incident and reasonable cause testing. Unifor remains committed to working with Suncor to develop effective safety programs that have a demonstrable impact on safety and respect the rights of employees.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).