Company rep accuses union members of intimidating employees at St. John’s plant
Labatt Brewery on Leslie Street in downtown St. John’s has erected a fence it says is designed to protect replacement workers from striking employees. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Labatt Breweries in St. John’s has erected a fence in a move to protect replacements workers from those whose jobs they have taken over.
Wade Keller, the company’s director of corporate affairs in Atlantic Canada, confirmed to The Telegram that the fence was put in place in response to the actions of striking workers represented by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE).
“The union’s tactics the other day, we view that as a form of intimidation, when you put someone’s street address there,” said Keller.
He was referring to a display set up in front of a neighbouring house during a demonstration last Friday that listed the names of replacement workers.
“I think people have a certain expectation of privacy ... and there is a safety aspect to be considered.”
The potential use of replacement workers was the issue that started a wildcat strike on May 25.
Members with NAPE Local 7004 voted in favour of strike on April 10.
“In these situations, they do get emotional, and when you start sharing people’s home addresses, that has the potential to escalate into something more dangerous. The fence is there out of concern for the safety of our employees.”
A spokesman for NAPE said any questions relating to the fence would need to be answered by the company. However, one source from the picket line suggested the fence would trap people trying to use the fire escape in the event of an emergency.
The source also questioned whether firefighters would be able to access the hook-up on the property given the placement of the fence.
Keller said the fence is at least three metres from the fire escape, adding that there is an opening where people could quickly get through the fence in the event of an emergency.
Held down with sandbags, the fence is considered a temporary measure, though Keller said it could become a permanent fixture if necessary.
“Union members have a right to strike, but they do not have a right to strike on our property,” he said.