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Unifor to appeal ruling on Suncor random drug, alcohol testing

Wants arbitration ruling against oil sands developer reinstated.


FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Unifor is appealing the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta’s decision to quash a previous arbitration panel ruling prohibiting the random drug and alcohol testing of its members at Suncor operations in Wood Buffalo.

“Random drug and alcohol testing violates the basic rights of our members and therefore we stand by the arbitration panel ruling,” said Unifor western director Joie Warnock. “We will be filing an application to appeal with the Alberta Court of Appeal.”

The union, which represents 310,000 workers across Canada in several industries, said Suncor unilaterally announced the implementation of random drug and alcohol testing at its oil sands operations in 2012. Unifor filed a grievance on behalf of its members, which resulted in the formation of an Arbitration Panel.

In March 2014, following 23 days of hearings, the panel ruled Suncor’s proposed random testing violated the fundamental rights of the union’s bargaining unit members to privacy, respect, and dignity in the workplace and could not be justified in the circumstances.

When Suncor announced implementation of its random drug and alcohol testing, the oil sands developer already had in place a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy that includes post-incident and reasonable cause testing.

Unifor said that policy isn’t affected by the ongoing litigation.

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