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IWW files Unfair Labour Practice (ULP) complaints against Ben Gunter Pharmacy Inc., Shoppers Drug Mart

Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

October 8, 2013
For Immediate Release

IWW files Unfair Labour Practice (ULP) complaints against Ben Gunter Pharmacy Inc., Shoppers Drug Mart

The Ottawa-Outaouais IWW would like to thank its supporters and community allies for their contributions regarding its current labour dispute with Ben Gunter Pharmacy Inc. (Shoppers Drug Mart Store #1428).

On September 16th and 17th respectively, Ryan and the IWW received cease-and-desist letters from the law offices of Birenbaum, Steinberg, Landau, Savin & Colraine containing a false allegation of trespassing, and accusations of misrepresentation, misconduct, tortious and defamatory activity.

Our response:

  • There has been no trespassing of the Shoppers Drug Mart store on the part of the IWW. Union members have entered the store only in official capacities to communicate with store management.
  • We have exercised our due diligence before representing the current unfair labour situation to the public by attempting to meet with Associate/Owner Ben Gunter, who chose to respond by refusing to engage in further communication. In this scenario, our conclusions have been reasonable, and made in good faith, in light of our investigation of Ryan’s termination.
  • All our picket-line activity and conduct has been within legal boundaries. We will continue to advise picketers that they are not to enter the store premises, but that it is their lawful right to picket, inform the public about inappropriate business practices, and to demonstrate that people are prepared to show solidarity with workers who fight back.

On September 30th, the Ottawa-Outaouais IWW filed Unfair Labour Practice (ULP) and Unlawful Reprisal (OHSA Section 50) complaints against both Ben Gunter Pharmacy Inc. and Shoppers Drug Mart with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. A Labour Relations Officer has been assigned to the case and a hearing date has been set.

Until Ben Gunter and Shoppers Drug Mart address and resolve the current labour dispute, we will continue to exercise our lawful right to picket the 455 Bank St store as unfair labour practices are a matter of public interest.

Our demands and remedies sought: the employer must reinstate Ryan to his job as merchandiser with fair scheduling of hours, make him whole for the time since the termination, paying him for his lost wages. We also demand that Shoppers Drug Mart comply with their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in establishing an anti-harassment policy and to incorporate anti-harassment into the store’s training program for employees. Finally, we demand that the employer not deal directly with our member, but to deal with the union in this matter.

Arbitrary firings and disrespect of basic workers’ rights are major problems in Ottawa. The retail industry standards of treatment for workers need dramatic improvement so they can make a living with dignity. Organizing a union is the best way to achieve lasting improvements and defend against employer abuse.

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