Bombardier Thunder Bay picket line injunction bid delayed

A Superior Court judge in Thunder Bay has delayed a decision on a request from Bombardier Transportation for an injunction to enforce picketing guideliines.

Hearing into company's request held over by judge until Aug. 7

A Thunder Bay judge says police are ordered to enforce the orders previously issued about behaviour on the picket line. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

A Superior Court judge in Thunder Bay has delayed a decision on a request from Bombardier Transportation for an injunction to enforce picketing guidelines.

The company went to court Thursday to argue that striking workers are not following a picket line protocol agreed to by the union and ordered by another judge last week.

Unifor asked for an adjournment of Thursday's injunction hearing on the grounds that it didn't have enough time to review the documents Bombardier had submitted.

"We are ... pleased with the decision," said Anthony Savela, a Unifor national staff representative. "[Bombardier's]  counsel tabled a number of incidents and allegations they allege happened at the picket line.  We didn't receive any information related to those until very late yesterday." 

Justice Helen Pierce agreed to adjourn the matter until next week, but noted that both parties need to abide by the rules stated in last week's order. She said she was "very concerned there not be violence on the picket line."

Pierce also set some conditions. She said police must enforce the picket line orders, which must be displayed prominently at the site. 

Bombardier spokesperson Stephanie Ash said the company was disappointed that the injunction hearing would be delayed, but happy that the judge had expressed her concerns about potential violence.

"We're very pleased that she did provide measures for the police ... to enforce the strike protocol agreement," she said. "What that means is we have the ability to call the police services if we need support."   

Ash said there had been "several instances" of striking workers breaking the picket line rules, including delaying vehicles for longer than the agreed-upon 25 minute maximum.

"We've actually had one case where someone was waiting for four hours," she said.

Ash added that a "parts truck" had not been allowed to enter the site.    

Savela said there had been no violence or disorderly conduct on the line.

"My view would be that the employer is trying to paint a different picture ... [than] you actually see if you go to the line." 

Savela acknowledged there were concerns about the parts truck being prevented from going into the plant. "But I think really what should happen is the parties should sit down and look at the protocol and discuss what should happen in those circumstances." 

As for the judge's order about police enforcement, Savela said, "I think that ... the police being on the line is essentially a good thing and it ensures that the protocol is followed and that everybody conducts themselves as they're supposed to." 

A Thunder Bay police spokesperson told CBC News that police won’t comment on Thursday's court order until they receive it and read it.

“We need to look at it first,” Cst. Julie Tilbury said in an email to CBC News.

“[We’re] unsure where they are in the court process and when they will have it finalized, if indeed that occurred today.”

Bombardier's request for injunction will now be heard Aug. 7 at 10 a.m.


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