Suncor to continue fight for random drug tests for oil sands workers

Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:25pm EDT
 
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta, March 27 (Reuters) - Canada's largest oil producer, Suncor Energy Inc, said on Thursday it will appeal a legal decision preventing the company from carrying out random drug and alcohol tests on workers at its northern Alberta oil sands sites.

Suncor has been embroiled in a row with union Unifor over random testing since July 2012 after the union filed a grievance against the policy on the grounds it violated employees' privacy, dignity and human rights.

On Wednesday, an independent arbitration panel sided with Unifor, which represents 3,600 workers in the area around Fort McMurray, ruling there is no evidence of an out-of-control drug or alcohol culture at Suncor's sites.

"We are disappointed with the outcome and will be appealing," said Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal.

"Over the last 20 years we have tried to address safety concerns around drugs and alcohol but none of those measures have appropriately mitigated the risk."

The appeal will be heard before the Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta, at a date which is yet to be set.

There have been three deaths in the last seven years at Suncor in which drugs and alcohol were a factor. The company already tests workers before they are certified to work and after any incidents.

The booming oil sands region around Fort McMurray has gained a reputation for drug and alcohol abuse in recent years as workers poured in from across Canada and around the world, lured by high wages and plentiful work.   Continued...