Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. Supreme Court grants Loblaw injunction against striking Dominion workers

In a statement, the company says it applied for the injunction after “multiple unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a picketing protocol with Unifor.”

Both sides will be in court on Sept. 18

Dominion workers on strike prevent a transport truck from entering the parking lot at Quidi Vidi Lake. The strike lasted from late August to mid November. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has granted an injunction against striking grocery store workers.

Justice Vikas Khaladkar granted Loblaw an injunction against Unifor Local 597 on Friday.

In a statement, the company says it applied for the injunction after "multiple unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a picketing protocol with Unifor."

The court order applies to all 11 Dominion stores in the province, where more than 1,400 workers have been striking since Aug. 22.

Unifor is calling for more full-time jobs, as more than 80 per cent of the workers are part time. In 2019, 60 full-time jobs were converted into part-time positions.

Catherine Thomas, a spokesperson for Loblaw, said Unifor was blocking entrances and exits to the stores, which prevented them from removing trailers filled with perishable food. 

Union president Carolyn Wrice, who says injunctions are not uncommon during a strike, disputes the company's claim. 

Carolyn Wrice is the president of Unifor Local 597. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"We were preventing trucks from going in and out, but we allowed any people, any person or any charitable organization to go into the property and remove anything that was going to food banks," Wrice said Sunday.

The company also said they were stopping people going to the pharmacy and asking why they were entering the store — something the union also disputes.

"We also encourage people to phone ahead and tell the pharmacy, the pharmacist, that they were there, at the picket line, and that the pharmacist could bring the product to the car. We never once stopped anybody from going into a pharmacy or to go to see a doctor," said Wrice. "We would never do that."

The company also claimed picketers were blocking customers from other stores on their property, which are not related to the labour dispute. 

Thomas said the company has also asked the picketers to take down any construction on the cart corrals, citing safety. 

Until Sept. 19, the interim order prevents the workers, who have been on strike for one week, from blocking or interfering with employees, agents or contractors who are accessing Loblaws.

The order, however, allows workers to briefly stop people, for up to a minute, who are crossing the picket line to go to other business in the same building, such as a doctor's office or liquor store.

"Such interference shall not exceed one minute in duration unless the individual wishes to engage for a longer period, and in such case, the interaction may continue until the individual no longer wishes to engage in conversation," the order reads. 

However, the injunction says anyone speaking to the striking workers while in a vehicle must leave after a minute so they don't impede other traffic. 

The injunction says picketers can't ask people going to the pharmacy for ID or proof of prescriptions, and that barricades at entrances and exits must be removed. 

The injunction also states workers cannot interfere with Loblaw's right to remove inventory that is or may become stale and dated, or with contractors who are entering the property to replenish fuel for refrigeration of inventory in tractor trailers, or who are delivering or removing cash.

Both sides will be in court on the injunction on Sept 18.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jonny Hodder


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