Striker's comments intended as a joke, arbitrator says
Former Vale worker who was fired during 2009-2010 strike allowed to go back to job
Posted: Dec 13, 2012 10:18 AM ET
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2012 10:13 AM ET
A second Vale worker fired during the year long strike in Sudbury has been given back his job, after an arbitrator ruled the comments he made on the picket line were ‘extremely offensive,’ but not threatening.
On Aug. 1, 2009, a female Vale employee was hanging around the picket line at Coleman Mine — something that annoyed several of the striking workers, including Ron Breault.
A recent Ontario labour relations board arbitration hearing was told that Breault looked at the Vale employee and said, "I should go get a gun and shoot her."
Sudbury police later arrested Breault at his home and seized his hunting rifles.
Breault was then fired by Vale, ending his four-years of employment with the nickel mining giant. He didn't receive an arbitration hearing at the time, because he and his fellow United Steelworkers Local 6500 members were on strike.
Worker reluctant to admit what he did was wrong
However, an arbitrator has ruled that Breault shouldn't have been fired because his comment was intended as a joke. The Vale employee testified that it made her feel uncomfortable, but not frightened.
The arbitrator noted Breault is reluctant to admit that what he did was wrong and so denied him full back-pay for the entire year-long strike. He also ordered that a 30-day suspension be added to his file.
Breault has been awarded 19-months worth of paycheques, to make up for the delay in his case being heard and he is now free to go back to work at Vale.
Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand said the reinstatement of Breault’s job “was very good news for us, but better news for Ron who has been waiting out for almost 3.5 years now."
This is the second worker to be reinstated after being fired by Vale during the strike.
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