Overtime situation at Windsor sugar refinery boils over

U.F.C.W., Local 278W v. Canadian Blending & Processing Inc., 2002 CarswellOnt 5543 (L.A.C.)

Guy Rocheleau was a shift engineer, operating and maintaining steam boilers for Canadian Blending and Processing Inc., a sugar refinery in Windsor, Ont.

In February 2001, he was told by his supervisor that he would have to work a 12-hour shift the next night. He refused, telling his boss that the company did not have the required Ministry of Labour approval to order overtime work.

His boss gave him a direct order to do the shift. But when Rocheleau’s regular shift ended, he shut down the boilers and went home. Shortly after that, he was fired for insubordination.

The court decided that Rocheleau was within his rights to walk off the job because the employer was not, legally, allowed to order him to work overtime. It also said his supervisor could have taken over rather than attend a safety course that day.

But it said the manner in which Rocheleau shut down the boilers could be considered insubordination. Rather than conducting a hot shutdown, which would have left the boilers idling, he conducted a cold shutdown, which halted all production in the facility and could have damaged the equipment.

Rocheleau was suspended without pay or benefits for six months. He was ordered to apologize in writing for his actions and accept all lawful directions from his employer in future.

Virtually all of the sugar manufactured at the Windsor facility was shipped to the U.S. Because of a trade dispute involving sugar import tariffs, the Windsor plant shut down indefinitely at the end of August 2001 and had yet to re-open at the time of the hearing.

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!