AlumaSafway scaffolding employees at Suncor and Syncrude refusing to work overtime could face discipline, termination, or potential jail time according to a company memo distributed to staff last week.
In the letter sent out on August 25, 2022, AlumaSafway says that scaffolders have refused to work overtime beyond their 10-hour shifts at the Suncor Base Plant site and have refused to accept overtime shifts offered for the weekend on both night and day shifts.
“We have been patient and given your union (The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local Union No. 1325) an opportunity to convince you that this coordinated refusal constitutes an illegal strike and that you may face consequences as a result,” the memo states.
The scaffolding company appeared in front of the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) the same day the memo was sent out. The Board ruled that refusing to work “voluntary” overtime is an unlawful strike and in violation of the Labour Relations Code when it is done by a group of employees acting together.
After the ruling, AlumaSafway sent out the memo and a cease-and-desist order of the court which they say can impact those that act in defiance including termination of employment, legal action against striking employees for all damages caused by the illegal strike, a potential site ban for everyone involved, and the possibility of fines or jail time.
AlumaSafway states in the memo that they do not want to impose any of the consequences set out.
“This memo is intended to cause you to change your behaviour by impressing upon you the seriousness of this matter, including the consequences that you may suffer if the strike continues. We expect you to comply with the order and cease your illegal activities. Overtime is required, and we expect you to behave lawfully and take this work as you normally would.”
In a statement to Mix News, the company says “we fully support the success of its employees and work positively to address worker concerns. The purpose of the Labour Relations Board ruling was to address an illegal strike that violated a union contract. Upon hire, employees are able to accept a shift as dispatched on a voluntary basis, including overtime. We look forward to continuing to provide a safe, positive, and rewarding work environment for our employees.”
In a vice.com article, the ALRB said on August 22 an anonymous letter was shared among scaffolders at a Suncor site that asked workers to “collectively refuse to work overtime shifts for the purpose of compelling incentives from the Employer, including improvements in compensation or working conditions.” This resulted in no workers taking on overtime shifts, according to the ALRB, which they ruled was illegal under the province’s labour laws.
Article 1 of the ALRB findings states that AlumaSafway and The Union are parties to a collective agreement, the General Presidents Maintenance Agreement (GPMA), which applies to employees working at Suncor sites, Syncrude-Mildred Lake, and CNOCC Long Lake Site.
Mix News has reached out to ALRB, and UBC 1325 for comment but has not received a response. This story will be updated.