Canada Random drug and alcohol testing at Suncor blocked by injunction

22:54  07 december  2017
22:54  07 december  2017 Source:   Edmonton Journal

Booze, drugs involved in 73 oilsands safety incidents since 2013, Suncor says

  Booze, drugs involved in 73 oilsands safety incidents since 2013, Suncor says Booze, drugs involved in 73 oilsands safety incidents since 2013, Suncor saysSuncor faces “profound problems” with drugs and alcohol at its oilsands operations, including accidents, injuries and death, according to documents filed to support the company’s push for increased testing.

The union representing Suncor workers in northern Alberta said Thursday it is seeking a last-minute injunction next week to block company plans to start a controversial random drug and alcohol testing program.

Oilsands giant Suncor will have to wait until next week to find out whether it will be able to start conducting random drug and alcohol tests on its northeastern Alberta employees. A union representing 3,000 workers is seeking an injunction to prevent the company from proceeding with

112317-no_object-1124_news_testing-W.jpg:  © Jeff McIntosh

Suncor will not be able to start randomly testing employees at its oilsands site for drugs and alcohol after an Edmonton judge granted an injunction on Thursday.

The injunction blocks the energy company’s plan to start random testing for about 4,600 safety-sensitive and critical management positions at its mine site north of Fort McMurray while its five-year court battle over the program with its workers’ union continues.

During a hearing on Nov. 30, Unifor Local 707A, which represents about 3,000 Suncor workers around Fort McMurray, argued that irreparable harm would be done to the privacy rights of workers if the random testing were allowed to begin before the court case concludes.

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The study comes on the same day oil company Suncor is in court in Edmonton, fighting for random drug and alcohol testing at its oil sands The company is fighting an injunction granted five years ago to union Unifor local 707A, which put the proposed program on hold while it went to arbitration.

Suncor in 2012 introduced a random drug and alcohol testing policy for its employees in safety-sensitive positions in all the oil sands operations in Alberta. The Union then sought an injunction to prevent the implementation of random testing pending the arbitration’s outcome.

Had the injunction been rejected, Suncor could have begun random testing immediately.

Suncor argued that beginning random testing at the “dangerous” site is a pressing safety issue.

In a written decision filed with the court Thursday, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Paul Belzil said that beginning the testing now would create a “chaotic situation” if Unifor is ultimately successful in court and Suncor is subsequently prohibited from continuing the program.

“Safety concerns, while relevant, are not sufficient to tip the balance of convenience in favour of Suncor,” Belzil wrote.

Suncor first introduced a drug and alcohol testing program in 2003, which includes “post-incident testing.”

In 2012,  the company announced its plan to introduce random testing for safety sensitive positions.

Unifor fought the implementation of the new policy, and the matter has been tied up in the courts since.

Most recently, in September, the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld an earlier ruling dismissing an arbitration panel’s finding that the random testing should be quashed, and ordered the issue heard by a new panel.

The union has filed leave to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. A decision on leave is expected in February 2018.

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