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Labour law: Don't do this if your workers join a union

Business owners in British Columbia will know that there are many intricacies when it comes to the rights of their employees. One issue that often creates tension between management and employees is when employees want to form or join a union and the employer does not approve.

The BC Labour Relations Code, RSBC 1996, c 244, permits employees to freely be a member of a trade union and pursue union activities. Correspondingly, the Code prohibits actions known as unfair labour practices. Management cannot threaten employees with layoffs, job loss or benefits denial if they join a union. No anti-union activities such as meetings at the premises or distributing leaflets produced or copied on site are allowed. An employer may also not demote or reassign employees who support the union to positions or shifts that are less desirable.

Furthermore, the employer may not transfer or terminate the employment of supporters of the union without cause. Employers are also not allowed to use intimidation techniques such as telling employees that the names of the union card holders are known, or calling supporters of the union. Threatening, coercive or intimidating postings, leaflets or letters are also prohibited.

Employers in British Columbia who want to learn about their rights when their employees talk about joining a union can get answers from a lawyer who is experienced in all labour law matters. Obtaining timely advice might avoid accusations of unfair labour practices. Similarly, workers who consider joining a union, and need clarification on their rights and how to achieve these goals without jeopardizing their jobs, might also find the advice and guidance of a labour law lawyer invaluable.

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