Court deals blow to Labatt wildcat strike

Andrew Robinson
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Workers prohibited from blocking traffic to and from St. John's plant

Picketers at the Labatt brewery on Leslie Street in St. John's stand on their picket line Monday afternoon after a court injunction was issued preventing strikers from impeding traffic to and from the facility. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram


The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador ruled Monday that Labatt workers engaged in a wildcat strike cannot block access to the company's St. John's facility.

Labatt Breweries Newfoundland applied to the court last week for an injunction against members of Local 7004 of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE).

Justice Donald Burrage ruled that workers cannot obstruct people coming and going from the Labatt building on Leslie Street. They must also take down tents they have set up and remove all other objects they've brought to the area where they've been picketing since March 25.

Lawyer Sheila Greene, representing NAPE, argued there was already a mechanism in place to deal with the matter via an arbitrator with the labour relations board. The employer filed a grievance on March 26.

However, Burrage said there was enough evidence to indicate the matter was a case of nuisance, with issues pertaining to the Highway Traffic Act and the Criminal Code.

In affidavits filed with court, Labatt cited dozens of incidents when illegally striking workers blocked people from gaining entrance to the property and leaving it.

It also referenced instances when nails and other objects were placed in front of the entranceway, and one case when a person jumped in front of a commercial vehicle. Police were called to the site on multiple occasions.

Evidence not contested

Burrage noted that the evidence brought forward by Labatt was not contested by counsel representing NAPE.

He said the actions taken by workers made it evident that irreparable harm had come to the company. The judge cited the loss of goodwill and a damaged business reputation.

Workers started the wildcat strike in response to a request from Labatt to train replacement workers.

The same issue was the precursor to a wildcat strike in 2005. Following 21 days of legal job action, that labour dispute ended when workers voted to ratify an eight-year contract.

That contract expired at the end of last month. As of midnight last night, the 50 workers represented by NAPE were in the position to hold a strike vote.

Burrage said his ruling will remain in effect even in the event of legal job action by the workers. Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Labatt, Supreme Court, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Leslie Street

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Recent comments

  • Spurious Recruitment Inc
    April 10, 2013 - 11:05

    Labatt may if needed, fire several employee's for illegal actions during their wildcat strike. Labatt will concider the first 100 resumes sent to their office for the position of "unskilled labour". New hires will not receive the rate of pay in the mid $30 per hour range most Labatt employee's now receive but will start with a mid $20 per hour range with a strong benifit package. If you are interested in one of these positions, apply online with the phrase, "hell yes me son, I'll do dat job".

    • Jiminey Cricket
      April 10, 2013 - 15:56

      Hell yes me son! I'll do dat job!

  • P F Murphy
    April 10, 2013 - 08:30

    And you talk about whiners? How about that Richard Alexander, Bradley George and Denis Mahoney? Cut wages to workers, pay no taxes or Workers' Comp, lower prices for fish, oil, ores and lumber. Nothing about building our province by creating better paying jobs or more or better businesses and making stuff move ahead. This is what capitalists do when they have no guts and drive. Just whine and whine to scab a few twisted bucks into their own pockets by decreasing the wages and working conditions, raw materials prices and the taxes they should pay. This mentality just swirls the economy and society in closer and closer on itself until it collapses. We should be aware what is going on and that making a few stingy bucks for whining business owners or their running dogs does not improve our lot, our province or our society.

  • P F Murphy
    April 10, 2013 - 08:10

    Irreparable harm! Irreparable harm? I don't think this phrasing is in contact with the real world. Irreparable harm? Really? You would think that having some common sense would be a requirement to earning a large salary and a large pension that was just lumped into the province's unfunded debts and is a burden on the backs of everyday workers like those at Labatts. It would seem to me that "irreparable harm" has more to do with the aloof sentiments of the 1%ers who couldn't be bothered with the insignificant every day lives of the taxpayers who have to make the money to pay for hospitals, schools, roads, buildings, the legal system and all the rest. "Irreparable harm" seems a justification to prolong the strike by making it more and more comfortable for the company and decrease the taxes coming into the coffers of the province to pay government-funded salaries and pensions. Companies are always trying to cut what they have to pay out for wages, raw materials, buildings and taxes and increase what they take in by bumping up their prices. That's capitalism. However those profits go outside this province; the workers' wages run our own economy so why cut our own throats. I enjoy Quidi Vidi products so it would appear I won't be drinking Labatts any time soon; however cuts to government services and tax increases seem to be in our current and future expectations.

  • Political Watcher
    April 10, 2013 - 06:14

    Couldn't care less; Labatts only produces swill anyway and I wouldn't miss it if it was gone.

  • wellpaidnonunionworker
    April 09, 2013 - 23:48

    If the Labatts workers feel so hard done by, then quit, simple! I understand Wal-Mart and McDonalds are usually hiring..

    • Linda
      June 14, 2013 - 09:48

      This is just ignorance

  • suzanne
    April 09, 2013 - 15:07

    What kind of idiot(s) challenge people to boycott the brand that gives them a livelihood? Consider yourself lucky to have a job that pays you the wages and the benefits that you have and that you will receive well into retirement. The private sector is sick of you (all Unions) whining about paying into your own pension fund and looking to secure your own well being for the future. Wake up! It's 2013 you need to take some responsibility for your financial future. Companies (including government) can no longer afford to provide FULL benefit packages. Take a look around-countries are crumbling because governments (Greece etc) have gone bankrupt trying to pay out pensions. You will receive ZERO public support because guess what Blocker- we already have to pay for our own benefits-it's called life. Go ahead and be a moron and boycott the product that pays you, and when ABINBEV pulls out and you realize that you are qualified to do nothing else-get a job like the rest of us and smile while you pay for your own benefits and financial security for your OWN retirement.

    • Carole j.
      April 10, 2013 - 06:37

      The point... Suzanne is that Labbat is taking livelihoods AWAY from their own workers; and for the strikers to call on people to continue to reward Labatt by buying their product would be, in your words, moronic. Just because you are either too privileged or too pathetic to stand up for yourself doesn't mean that others should allow themselves to be walked over. Oh and your interpretation of the Greek situation is as sophomoric as it is laughable.

    • blocker
      April 10, 2013 - 06:52

      Well, Suzanne consider yourself lucky to be in a society that has unions. It is not suprising to see that the private sector is sick of unions, after all thay force employers to pay fair compensation, something they have never done unless they have to. Even those who are not in unions, benefit from them, as employers raise standards just to try to keep unions out. So you see, even though you do not belong to a union you have benefited from them, unless, of course you are an employer. As far as paying into their own pension, unions have always paid for their own pensions and benefits, when they negotiate, they divert part of the wage package to benefits. It does not show up on the pay stub, but they pay for them, just the same. As far as govts go, they are in trouble for many reasons, massive company bailouts and preferential business tax rates amongst them. And , yes boycotts are the way to go, to try and force fair settlements. And, i can tell you if if were not for the lesson nefoundlanders taught coke when they left, both Labatt and Molson would have left a long time ago. This lesson is not lost on them, they know whoever leaves first will pay the price. Again, I can only conclude that you are either an employer or you are jealous of those who have what it takes to stand up and fight for a better life for their families.

  • Cavell
    April 09, 2013 - 10:11

    BOYCOTT BEGINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUD & BUD LIGHT

    • DOINK
      April 10, 2013 - 04:31

      May as well stop drinking because Labatts is owned by Inbev which owns just about every brewery/distillery on the planet. A few workers in St. John's? - Write-off.

  • Kylie
    April 09, 2013 - 10:08

    Labatt profits for Canada last year over $900 million plus & Labatt profit NFLD over $18 million plus. Labatt Breweries, greedy bunch, share the profits.!!!!

    • CS
      April 09, 2013 - 14:53

      They do share the profits goof - with every one of the millions of people that own stocks. You want some of their profits, go buy some shares

  • Smitty
    April 09, 2013 - 09:09

    I did not support the Labattt workers because I was not a union member. I cheered when they laid off government employees because I don't want to pay taxes. I chided the airport workers because (I assume) I am more educated than me and therefore more entitled. I know nothing about the RBC workers in Toronto who were forced to train the scabs that took their jobs because I have no interest in mainlanders. Now my employer is talking about out-sourcing my job -- WHY IS NO ONE SUPPORTING ME?!

    • blocker
      April 09, 2013 - 10:35

      Smitty, perhaps no one is supporting you because they are not aware of your caseyou say in your own comment, because you don't care about anyone else's situation. As far as govt workers, be glad you have their incomes supporting you economy. Just imagine how bad the Canadian economy would be if the billions the govt spends on health and social progams and the people who administer them was not their right now. We would be in another full blown depression. It is bad enough that companies and Mr. Harper are doing their best to suppress wages. Just think about this, companies do not create sustainable jobs. Consumers make jobs sustainable, and when they do not have dispossible income, they do not buy cars, tvs,computers, go to restaruants, shows, clubs or shopping for extras. Ibelieve we are in a time that is very similar to the 1920's when all of the wealth was being amassed by a small segment of the population, a situation which contributed to the great depression.

    • Chantal
      April 09, 2013 - 11:06

      Exactly. We will hang ourselves with our envy and bitterness with which we lash out toward our fellow workers -- especially when they stand up for themselves.

    • Smitty
      April 09, 2013 - 12:24

      Actually, Blocker, I was paraphrasing Martin Niemöllers "First they came for the Socialists..." a reference to Hitler's ability to carry out the holocaust by pitting islated people against each other.

    • K S
      April 10, 2013 - 23:24

      Unions support and fight for you every day whether you know or appreciate it or not. With so many large corporations and especially foreign ones taking billions of $$ of profit out of the country, there will soon be no manufacturing industry or enough sustainable jobs to support our country.

  • Russell Wangersky
    April 09, 2013 - 08:58

    There are some technical problems getting some comments online - Blocker's earlier comment had been approved, but for some reason has not appeared yet. We're working on it.

  • blocker
    April 09, 2013 - 08:18

    why do you not publish comments when they are against the company.

    • blocker
      April 09, 2013 - 08:51

      The above comment was submitted due to the fact that I submitted a comment last night outlining this company's greed and it has not been published. If this company is going to close the plant they need no excuses, they will just do it. The company is worth over 100 BILLION dollars, Makes billons in profit every year. Paid the top 40 execs approx 2Billion in bonuses last year including approx 184 million to its ceo. they cut wages and benefits to both salaried and union employees and tranfer jobs out of the country. The reductions they impose on all their employees hurt your economy. They mean less disposable income to spend, money that supports your jobs and businesses. Don't be jealous of their wages, the money they spent may be keeping you employed.