CUPW Wins Epic Battle To Be Involved In Health and Safety Inspections and Investigations

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After almost six years since our initial complaint, the CUPW has won a landmark victory requiring employers to involve Local Joint Health and Safety Committees (LJHSCs) and Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) during on-site inspections and investigations of health and safety issues.

The specific case involves the refusal of Canada Post management to involve the LJHSCs and HSRs in the on-site inspections and investigations which took place concerning the implementation of the Traffic Safety Assessment Tool (TSAT) which was used to assess the safety of delivery to rural mail boxes.

When the program was introduced in 2007, Canada Post management refused to provide any information or reports to the Local Joint Health and Safety Committees and Health and Safety Representatives even though the program was designed to address workplace health and safety matters.

Union Appeals CPC’s Unilateral Action

Faced with the decision by Canada Post to proceed unilaterally, CUPW filed a complaint under the Canada Labour Code. In December 2008, Labour Canada ordered Canada Post to consult with the Union but the decision did not address the union’s demands that LJHSCs and HSRs should be directly involved in the process of onsite inspections and investigations and that all TSAT assessments should be provided to the National Joint Health and Safety Committee. The Union appealed this decision and many hearings were held between December 2009 and August 2012. Union witnesses included 1st National Vice‑President Gayle Bossenberry, Union Representative Serge Champoux, Diana Lamb, Secretary-Treasurer of the Tritown Local, Toni MacAfee, Regional Education and Organization Officer, Atlantic Region and Stéphane Vallée, Regional Grievance Officer, Québec Region.

Complete Vindication For the Union

On August 8, 2013, after almost six years of legal action, the Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal ruled completely in favour of the Union.

The decision states that Canada Post violated the Canada Labour Code “by failing to cooperate with the LJHSC and the HSRs during the on-site inspections and investigations of the TSAT process, either by failing to communicate with the LJHSCs or HSRs prior to each evaluation, or by omitting to elaborate a strategy to ensure their participation, and by failing to ensure that they are informed and trained on their TSAT responsibilities…”

The Tribunal also ruled that Canada Post management also violated the Canada Labour Code because it “systematically refused to provide the TSAT assessment results to the NJHSC following numerous requests made in this regard”.

Victory for Workers and the Labour Movement

The decision of the Tribunal is a victory not only for postal workers but also for the entire trade union movement. This decision clearly provides an obligation for all federal employers to ensure that Local Joint Health and Safety Committees and Health and Safety Representatives are fully involved in all inspections and investigations which can impact on their health and safety at work.

In solidarity,
Denis Lemelin
National President

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