(Kelowna Capital News)

(Kelowna Capital News)

B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

A Peachland cannabis company has been ordered to re-hire nine employees it laid off early in October.

The order comes from the B.C. Labour Relations Board, which determined the employees were laid off due to the company’s anti-union sentiment.

Potanicals Green Growers, a subsidiary of Benchmark Botanics Inc., laid off nine employees at its Peachland operation, several weeks after 17 employees indicated they wanted to be part of the bargaining unit.

During a meeting with its employees on Oct. 5, the company announced it was laying off nine employees effective on Oct. 6, including master grower Tyler Bigattini and head of security Joshua Stowell. The company didn’t lay off any of its farmworkers, seven of whom are temporary foreign workers.

“Other employees who were not laid off had close connections with management at the employer’s Richmond head office,” the Labour Board said in its decision, published on Oct. 16.

In its decision, the Labour Board alleged Potanicals violated sections 6, 9 and 32 of the Labour Code. Section 6 prohibits an employer from discharging or refusing to employ a person if they are or will participate in a trade union. Section 9 states coercion or intimidation must not be used to influence an employee’s decision to be part of a trade union. Section 32***

During the hearings earlier in the month, the Labour Board stated the company did not provide evidence that the layoffs were necessary for the business.

The nine employees have now been reinstated with back pay and other benefits. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 1518 has also been given permission to install a bulletin board in the Peachland operation so it can post material and communications.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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