The injuction will be upheld until a new arbitration board hears the grievance

The Alberta Court of Appeal has upheld an injunction on random drug testing of Suncor employees in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, according to a Unifor press release.

“Suncor employees are already subjected to more alcohol and drug testing than Alberta’s drivers,” said Ken Smith, president of Unifor Local 707A, referring to Suncor tests following virtually every workplace incident. In contrast, the police can only demand that a driver submit to drug and alcohol testing if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe the driver is impaired.

The injunction was granted at Unifor Local 707A’s request on December 15, 2017. Unifor has filed for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold an arbitration board’s ban on random testing. The union says random testing violates the fundamental rights of workers to privacy, respect, bodily integrity, and dignity.

“We have a comprehensive alcohol and drug program that includes education, training, support for employees and testing pre-hire and post incident. We strongly believe this program(random drug testing) will contribute to a safer workplace and ultimately save lives,” said Nicole Fischer, spokesperson for Suncor.

In 2012, the union, which at the time was known as the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers’ Union, filed a grievance and applied for an injunction when Suncor announced the unilateral implementation of random drug and alcohol testing in its Fort McMurray Oilsands operations.

“Introducing this standard is absolutely necessary to address alcohol and drug related safety concerns in a region that has faced injuries – and even fatalities – where drugs or alcohol were involved,” Fischer said.

In March 2014 an arbitration panel ruled that the ban violated workers’ rights, but both a judicial review and then the Court of Appeal later set aside the panel’s decision, calling for a new arbitration board to hear the grievance.

“We will take all available action to fight this abusive policy, including a potential motion to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Smith.