Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Five unions affiliated to BC Building Trades Council go to BC Supreme Court seeking ruling that Labour Relations Board Chair and Associate Chair are biased – request Court overturn decision, appoint independent adjudicator.

VANCOUVER – Five unions affiliated to BC’s Building Trades Council are going to BC Supreme Court seeking a ruling that both the Chair and Associate Chair of the Labour Relations Board are biased or appear biased and requesting the Court appoint an independent adjudicator to rule on a lengthy case.

The five unions today filed a court application that seeks a finding that LRB Chair Brent Mullin and Associate Chair Mike Fleming are biased or appear to be biased for their conduct in an important case that has lingered without resolution for more than six years.

BC Building Trades Council Executive Director Tom Sigurdson says that union lawyers Caroline + Gislason Lawyers have submitted a sworn affidavit stating that Fleming told them he had to make a ruling that met the approval not only of Mullin but also of Peter Gall, the lawyer for the employer in the case, PCL Constructors and related companies.

Sigurdson said the unions seek a court ruling that the LRB’s two senior administrators are biased and that an independent adjudicator must be appointed by the court to hear the case.

“This is a shocking case where a quasi-judicial body that is supposed to be independent has instead shown that its top officials appear to take direct orders from one side - the employer – and demonstrates bias against the other side – workers and their unions,” Sigurdson said.

“This violates the fundamental principles of fairness and natural justice – we believe that the BC Supreme Court will rule that the Labour Relations Board and its officials must be removed from adjudicating this important case,” Sigurdson said.

The case involves PCL setting up separate companies to avoid its duty to fairly negotiate with unions that had existing bargaining rights, Sigurdson said. This has meant the loss of employment for hundreds of workers.

“Union members are extremely frustrated that not only has their case been delayed for years but that we now believe the most senior administrators of the Labour Relations Board are not impartial adjudicators – they have delayed and then ruled against us while holding an apparent bias the entire time,” Sigurdson said.

“The confidence that both unions and employers must have in the fairness and independence of the Labour Relations Board is essential,” Sigurdson said. “If the Chair and Associate Chair of what is effectively a labour relations court are found to be biased, we have a huge problem that affects thousands of workers and employers across the province.”

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