In the recent decision involving St Marys Cement Group (“St. Marys”), Mathews Dinsdale’s own David Cowling and Ian St. John successfully argued that union picketers should be prohibited from causing delays at the premises of St Marys customers and suppliers, from unlawfully interfering or threatening to interfere with St Marys economic relations with its customers, and from inducing or threatening to induce breaches of contract between St Marys and any of its customers, suppliers, employees or contractors.
During a legal strike, the Union attempted to enhance its bargaining power by picketing St. Marys premises and subsequently the premises of its customers. While picketing at the premises of its customers, evidence was provided to the Judge that some members of the union committed the tort of “intentional interference of economic relations” by picketing for the purpose of causing economic injury to St. Marys. Evidence of this misconduct included threats by a member of the union to a customer that picketers intended to disrupt the customer’s business unless the customer ceased dealing with St. Marys, and delaying St. Marys’ trucks from entering or exiting from customer premises to induce the customer to sever economic relations with St. Marys.
The decision held that the harm of potential loss of business to St. Marys caused by the evidence of wrongful conduct of the Union’s members warranted the granting of an injunction. The Order prohibits the delay of vehicles accessing customer or supplier premises. The injunction prohibits wrongful conduct (the delays) and does not prohibit informational picketing by the Union.
To our knowledge, this is the first case granting an injunction in a “secondary” picketing situation that prohibits a union from delaying the struck employer’s vehicles from entering customer premises for ANY period of time. This decision allows the employer to continue shipment of product to its customers without the shipment being delayed or obstructed by picketers.
If your company is experiencing a labour disruption, do not hesitate to call your Mathews Dinsdale lawyer to discuss the company’s legal rights and potential remedies.