Unifor confused by police presence and 'threatening' of arrest at picket line in Donovans

·3 min read
Mike Moore/CBC
Mike Moore/CBC

Roughly 20 Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers were "threatening" to arrest Dominion strikers at Weston Bakeries in Donovans Business Park Tuesday night if they didn't move from the picket line, according to a union representative.

Dominion workers vacated its secondary picket line at the Loblaw Companies Limited distribution centre overnight Sunday and were hit with an injunction Monday morning preventing them from picketing outside.

Union members moved locations and set their target to Weston Bakeries, owned by the Weston family, the owners of Loblaw.

"Loblaws hasn't taken us to court, there's no injunction. They've had two days to file an injunction. They haven't done that," said Chris MacDonald, assistant to Unifor national president Jerry Dias and lead negotiator for Dominion workers during the strike.

"We've complied with every injunction we've ever had and it's a shame that the company is relying on the St. John's police here to do their dirty work."

MacDonald said police told him they were preparing to arrest people for blocking trucks exiting the property. He said he's not sure why police are trying to enforce an injunction that doesn't exist, and the reason he was given is that police are enforcing the Highway Traffic Act. The union said the picket line outside of the bakery is peaceful.

"We're in the driveway. We're not even on the road," MacDonald said.

Hoping to a get a deal done

Loblaw lost against dozens of other injunctions it filed on Monday which would have prevented striking employees from popping up at other locations owned or associated with the business.

It's not clear if Weston Bakeries was among that list, but 30 Shoppers Drug Mart locations, three No Frills stores, three independent grocers and the company's wholesale club store were. The injunction on the distribution centre won in court.

Dominion employees have been on the picket line since August, calling for more full-time jobs as the union says more than 80 per cent of workers are part time and 60 full-time jobs were converted into part-time jobs in 2019.

MacDonald said picketers are preventing trucks with product from exiting Weston Bakeries to try to get Loblaw back to the bargaining table.

"We've booked rooms at the St. John's Sheraton tomorrow. We've tried to get them back to the bargaining table, we've booked rooms, we've brought our bargaining committee in from all over the province," he said.

"We're going there prepared to get a deal. Instead of telling us that they're coming to get a deal, Loblaws is relying on the police to do their work here. And instead of getting back to the bargaining table they'd rather put us through this."

Picketers told CBC News nobody had been detained as police began clearing out shortly after 8:30 last evening. Some police units remained on scene.

CBC News has requested comment from both the RNC and Loblaw's Atlantic director of corporate affairs.

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