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Labour Board allows Bakery Workers to Picket ‘Ally’ Distribution Centre

Canada Bread Company, Limited/Pain Canada Compagnie, Limitee and Bakery, Confectionery, Tabacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, Local Union No. 468, BCLRB No. B101/2017 (Leave for Reconsideration denied in BCLRB No. B129/2017).

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tabacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, Local Union No. 468 applied to the B.C. Labour Relations Board (the “Board”) to have Canada Bread’s Langley Distribution Centre declared an ally and to permit the Union to picket it pursuant to Section 65 of the Labour Relations Code (the “Code”). Section 65 of the Code permits a Union to picket at the location of a separate employer, if the Board is satisfied that the separate employer is assisting the employer whose employees are on strike or locked out to resist the job action.

Canada Bread had locked out the Union workers at their Langley Bakery but continued to supply baked goods to their customers by increasing shipments from bakeries in other Provinces through their Distribution Centre which is under a certification to a different union.

The Board agreed with the Union that the Distribution Centre was a separate as required by Section 65(8) of the Code.

The Board also agreed that the Distribution Centre was acting as an ally of the Langley Bakery by significantly increasing access to baked goods from other sources. In doing so, the Board held that the Distribution Centre altered its normal course of business in order to supply goods for the benefit of the struck employer.

It was irrelevant that the assistance being provided was the struck work itself (at para. 41). The Board allowed the Union’s application and authorized the Union to picket the Distribution Centre.

This decision is important for unions as it emphasizes that the purpose of the ally provisions under the Code is to prevent employers from undermining workers’ ability to apply economic pressure and to avoid prolonged labour disputes.

The Board alluded to these purposes at paragraph 58 of the Decision, where it held:

These actions are not for the benefit of the Distribution Centre. Rather, I find these actions are for the benefit of the Langley Bakery by insulating it from economic pressure and assisting it in resisting the strike.

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