Incident during Qualicum Beach labour dispute ends up in court

Judge reserved his decision; union member fighting ticket

An incident during last summer’s labour dispute in Qualicum Beach ended up in court Monday.

“This isn’t a big deal to us, but it seems very important to the employer,” said CUPE Local 401 President Blaine Gurrie after the court appearance. “It was surprising to see the mayor and the city manager show up for a jaywalking ticket hearing — that seems odd.”

Two CUPE Local 401 members received tickets while picketing at the regional district transfer station on Church Road during the five-week lockout. One ticket was withdrawn for a technical reason and the second is still under review by the judge.

“Last year, during the labour dispute, our trucks were prevented from going through, into the transfer station,” said Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek of the incident caught by a dash cam and reported in The NEWS at the time.

“The RCMP attended but everyone scattered, so there was no evidence at the time, but they saw your story and then came and saw the video,” Westbroek said.

“It was obvious that (the picketers’) claim that they never interfered was not true,” claimed Westbroek.

The tickets were issued by the RCMP the day after the incident.

The mayor said he attended court as an interested citizen and he said the town’s Chief Administrative Officer, Daniel Sailland, and the truck driver were there as witnesses called by the RCMP.

The tickets were for failing to yield to a vehicle when not in a crosswalk under Sect. 180 of the Motor Vehicle Act, said Cpl. Jesse Foreman, explaining there is no such thing as a jaywalking charge in Canada.

Union rep Gurrie said “we think the employer was being punitive… so that’s when we decided we have no choice but to challenge this. One of the stipulations in the agreement is usually that there will be no discipline met out for conduct during the dispute.”

“We didn’t think (the picketers’) had done anything wrong, but they wound up getting jaywalking tickets for picketing outside of the regional district’s transfer station,” he said. “Our belief is they were on private property, not the highway, so there’s no jaywalking involved whatsoever. We think they were well within their rights to do secondary picketing there — that’s part of the labour code.”

He also said it was odd that the RCMP issued the tickets the next day, but not at the time. He said it was the choice of the individual members to dispute the tickets and that “people are allowed to challenge any infractions they get.”

Despite the court appearance, Gurrie said the relationship between the union and employer “is improving. It’s gonna take a long time to get the labour relations back on track. It always does after a dispute, but both sides are working towards that.”

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