The Peel Regional Police are dedicated to the preservation of peace and the prevention of crime. Police presence at any labour dispute is solely for that purpose.
The Labour Liaison Bureau operates on the premise that labour disputes are civil contractual disputes, and providing no breach of the peace occurs, the police have no reason to intervene.
A labour dispute is a civil issue and hence requires civil remedies i.e. protocols, negotiations and or injunctions.
Roles and Functions
The Role of the Labour Liaison Bureau is:
To Liaise between management and organizing labour unions during times of industrial strife;
To ensure that all persons involved are aware of their LEGAL RIGHTS & OBLIGATIONS.
Through peaceful negotiations, attempt to prevent any breach of the peace.
To advise and assist where possible
Definition of Lawful and Unlawful Picketing
Most disputes involve picketing. In these cases, it is important to understand the distinction between lawful and unlawful conduct of picketers. Only informational picketing is lawful. That is, picketing is permitted only for the purpose of communicating information. Picketers may communicate information through a variety of means including placards, shouted slogans, pamphlets, and the mere fact of solidarity exhibited by the number of persons present on picket. However, they may not interfere with or obstruct the lawful right to enter or leave the struck premises.
Civil courts have stated that picketing is unlawful if it interferes with the rights of entrance or exit from private property. Picketers may not lawfully engage in the following activity:
- Stopping vehicles entering/exiting the struck premises for unreasonable lengths of time;
- Blocking roadways that lead to the premises;
- Limiting access or egress to the struck premises; or
- Making threats or engaging in intimidation.
In summary, picketing that blocks or obstructs access to the struck premises is unlawful and has never been condoned by the courts.
Evidence of these types of activities will be of assistance to the struck premises in obtaining a court injunction.
Peel Regional Police do not set time limits as to how long picketers may delay vehicles from entering or exiting premises, while they are communicating their message.
It is the policy of Peel Regional Police to refrain from using force to open a picket line; however, this does not preclude this action in emergent situations.
From time to time a party to a labour dispute may seek a court injunction to restrain picketing. However, the availability of this remedy does not diminish the police responsibility to preserve the peace, prevent the commission of offences, and enforce the law (ie: assault, mischief, obstruct police, causing a disturbance and intimidation). Under the Courts of Justice Act an injunction in connection with a labour dispute will not be granted unless the court is satisfied "that reasonable efforts to obtain police assistance, protection and action to control the picketing have proven to be unsuccessful".
Policing of labour disputes and of picketing is a complex task that requires sensitivity and tact on the part of the officers involved. However, the courts have made it clear that where a breach of criminal law occurs, a labour dispute must be treated like any other situation (see Montgomery J's decision in Canada Post Corp. v. C.U.P.W. (1991), 84 D.I.R. (4th) 150 at p. 153 "Breaches of the law must be remedied just as assiduously in a labour dispute as in any other situation").
Secondary picketing is picketing that occurs at locations other than that of the employer involved in the labour dispute.
Refer to R.W.D.S.U., Local 558 v. Pepsi-Cola Canada Beverages (West) Ltd.,  1 S.C.R. 156, 2002 SCC 8 for a Supreme Court of Canada decision on secondary picketing.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do people have the right to cross picket lines unmolested?
- Can picket lines hold people and traffic up for long periods of time?
- Is picketing legal?
- Is there a time limit to how long traffic can be held up?
- Are vehicles allowed to force their way through a picket line?
- Are picketers allowed onto company property?
- Where can picketers stand without requiring the permission of the company?
- Can the actions of the people involved in the strike be videotaped legally?
- Can sound be recorded?
- If I have an injunction to limit picketing will the police enforce it?
- People have the right to cross a picket line without being touched however they may be subject to comments from picketers expressing their views
- Times to cross a line vary depending on several factors which include, whether a picket line protocol has been established between union and management, and the number of vehicles crossing the line and the number of people (car pooling) in a vehicle crossing the line.
- A persons right to conduct picket activity is legal and protected under Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights
- There is no specific time set that a vehicle can be held at a line. A protocol negotiated between management and union help to keep the wait times consistent. If this fails then the company may seek relief through the courts with an injunction. A judge may set rules for the number of picketers, their location and the timings for vehicles crossing the line.
- Drivers are not allowed to force their way through a picket line. They may only proceed when it is safe to do so.
- In some cases, in the interest of public safety, due to traffic conditions the company will allow the picketers onto their property in a specific area.
- Picketers can conduct their activity at any location the public has right of access to except the traveled portion of a roadway. Picketers are now allowed onto public areas of private property such as a mall.
- It is common for a company to videotape the actions of picketers. The union also has the same right to tape the activity on the line. On many occasions video footage has been used by the police to review allegations of criminal offences on the picket line.
- An audio recording can be made by anyone on a picket line.
- If there is an injunction granted by the court police will work with the sheriff to ensure the proper action is taken.
Constable Sean Piper #1511
Officer-In Charge Labour Liaison Bureau
(905) 453-3311 ext. 3607