A local union's legal battle against random drug testing raises human rights concerns

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A local union's legal battle against random drug testing raises human rights concerns

A legal battle over random drug and alcohol testing in the oil sands is raising questions about human rights in the workplace.

The Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union Local 707 has earned an injunction against Suncor's implementation of the pilot on site, arguing its an illegal intrusion on employee privacy.

Blakes Law Firm National Labour Group Representative Brian Thiessen says,  those implementing random testing are relying on an Alberta Court of Appeal decision in a case between the province and Kellogg Brown.

"The case on the court basically said invoking human rights in the face of massive safety concerns on massive mining projects in the oil sands flies in the face of reason," said Thiessen.

Thiessen says there Eastern and Western courts have been divided over the issue, adding its unclear which precedent the Supreme Court Judge will favour in his ruling. 

"Certainly the lower courts are compelled to follow the supreme court's reasoning. What's rare here is that you've got the Ontario Court of Appeal going one way and the Alberta Court of Appeal going the other," Thiessen said. "So, really what's going to happen here is the Supreme Court of Canada is, hopefully, going to come down and give some direction to everyone."

The CEP has sought intervenor status on a Supreme Court Case involving Irving and one its New Brunswick branches, meaning any ruling made in the ongoing dispute would apply to their members as well.

Suncor lawyers will appeal the Court of Queens Bench injunction on November 26th. 85 per cent of the oil giant's workers would be tested under the contested pilot project.
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