Marine Atlantic Strikers May Face Discipline

WebPosted Nov 7 2003 10:28 AM NST

ST. JOHN'S - Marine Atlantic workers who took part in last week's illegal strike may be disciplined.

The 200 employees in Port aux Basques and North Sydney went back to work Saturday, just as management was preparing to take them to court.

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    Marine Atlantic workers picket during last week's wildcat strike in North Sydney.

    Marine Atlantic has agreed not to fire anyone over the walkout, but suspensions are possible, says Victor Tomiczek, representative of the Canadian Auto Workers' union.

    He says a similar strike a few years ago didn't lead to any charges or discipline.

    "At that time, the company and the people in it appreciated the fact that there are reasons why workers take illegal actions," he says.

    Punishment for wildcats varies

    The punishment for those who walk off the job varies.

    Corrections officers with the Newfoundland Association of Public and Private Employees got probation after they defied a court injunction in 1998.

    Six social workers involved in a wildcat a few years ago were charged, but the charges were later dropped.

    Disciplinary actions costly

    Gerry Curnew, director of labour relations with the school boards association, says employers often choose not to go to court.

    "They spend a lot of money going through the courts when the outcome and the penalties imposed on the wildcat strikers, in terms of monetary sanctions, is very little," he says.

    Curnew says employers sometimes choose not to discipline workers because they want to try to improve the atmosphere.

    He says that may be good for labour relations, but it doesn't discourage future wildcat strikes.