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Carpenters' union files second complaint, now against Greig NL

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

The Carpenters' Union Local 579 is alleging Greig NL is trying to break their union before it gets off the ground.

The union has filed a complaint with the Labour Relations Board against Grieg NL which alleges the company terminated “a significant number” of workers after gaining access to union cards, which were allegedly sent to the company by the Labour Relations Board earlier this week.

Mike Williams, president of the local, says the layoffs took place hours after the alleged leak of union information.

“Shortly after the Labour Relations Board breached the privacy of these workers and sent the information to the employer, within an hour to an hour and a half afterwards, the employer started laying off these workers,” said Williams.

“There’s a statutory freeze that’s supposed to be in place once the application is filed. Once the application is filed, the employer isn’t supposed to lay off, they’re not supposed to hire, they’re not supposed to give anyone increases of pay or whatever. Everything should stay the way it is. This employer violated that.”

The union says it has to wait and see what will happen in relation to its latest complaint.

The previous complaint about the alleged breach by the Labour Relations Board is being investigated by the government.

In a statement, Privacy Commissioner Michael Harvey says his office does not have the power to issue fines or sanctions to the company, only to make recommendations to the Labour Relations Board..

“The act sets out our privacy oversight role as primarily one in which we can recommend that any actions that are contrary to the statute cease or that similar actions not commence, and empowers us to make recommendations to help prevent future such occurrences,” reads the statement.

“We are also only empowered under the ATIPPA to make recommendations to heads of public bodies. We do not have the authority to regulate the actions of private companies. In this case, the Labour Relations Board is a public body, and our report and any recommendations will be to the head of that body.”

Labour Relations Board chair David Crowley issued a statement on Wednesday offering full co-operation with the investigations.

“The board intends to co-operate with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner in any independent investigation that it chooses to undertake with respect to the actions of the board,” reads the statement.

A statement from Labour Minister Gerry Byrne says he’s not weighing in on the matter at this stage.

“The department has confirmed with the board chair that this matter is exclusively within the purview of the board,” reads the statement.

“As a quasi-judicial independent body, it is necessary that the board maintain independence from government. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for the minister to comment.”

Grieg NL told CBC earlier this week it is unable to comment on the situation, given the matter is with the Labour Relations Board.

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