CANADA: An arbitrator in Canada’s Ontario state ruled that Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited was justified in suspending workers who have not been injected with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine without pay.
In his March 17 decision, Arbitrator Mark Wright ruled that the bottling company had the right to suspend unvaccinated employees without pay. He argued that while Coca-Cola’s vaccine mandates infringe on employees’ rights to privacy and bodily autonomy, it was reasonable due to the perceived threat of COVID-19.
“The [mandatory vaccination] policy is a response to a global health pandemic that has so far claimed six million lives worldwide. There is no question that it is extraordinary for an employer to enact a workplace rule or policy that impacts an employee’s right to privacy and bodily integrity, but there can be no dispute that the global COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinary health challenge.”
According to the arbitrator, employers such as Coca-Cola are “obliged to ensure that the health and safety of an employee is always protected” and statutorily required to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker” under the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“It strikes a reasonable balance between an employee’s right to privacy and bodily integrity and the employer’s right and statutory obligation to protect the health and safety of the workforce. It was therefore reasonable for the company to put non-compliant employees on unpaid administrative leave effective Jan. 31, 2022.”
Coca-Cola announces vaccine mandate, consequences for unvaxxed workers
Back in October 2021, Coca-Cola announced the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers at its facility in the city of Brampton in Ontario. It gave a deadline of Jan. 1 for employees to get vaccinated, with those refusing to do so set to face onerous conditions such as consistent COVID-19 testing and compulsory wearing of masks.
In response, UNIFOR Local 973 – which represents Coca-Cola workers in its Brampton and Hamilton facilities – filed a policy grievance in November 2021. The union alleged that the vaccine mandate was “unreasonable” and a breach of the collective agreement between the company and the Brampton facility’s approximately 700 employees.
In December, Coca-Cola announced that employees only partially vaccinated by Jan. 1 would be required to wear face shields over their masks whether on-site or in the field effective Jan. 3. A subsequent announcement mandated unvaccinated employees to undergo company-shouldered rapid COVID-19 testing on their own time effective Jan. 17. It warned of repercussions for failure to comply with the policy, “such as being subject to additional protocols and rules, including leave without pay, and the possibility of significant discipline up to and including termination.”
By Jan. 12, unvaccinated workers were told that they would be indefinitely placed on leave without pay – with Coca-Cola sending out letters to their homes. Wright stated: “Since the implementation of the policy, 48 employees at the Brampton facility have been placed on unpaid leave of absence due to noncompliance, 11 of whom have yet to obtain a second dose of the vaccine.” Given this, the arbiter advised that “no discipline should be issued for failing to become vaccinated before April 4.” (Related: Nike marketing manager FIRED for refusing to upload COVID vaccination details.)
COVID-19 cases rose among the fully vaccinated
Wright lauded the COVID-19 vaccines as being “safe and effective at combating not only the transmission of the virus, but also at providing significantly greater protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death” for fully vaccinated people. However, his own ruling proved these claims false.
In January alone, 409 employees had tested positive for COVID-19 in both the Brampton and Hamilton facilities, which amounted to approximately 13 percent of the workforce. This number of COVID-positive cases was “significantly more than in any other month. Incidentally, this coincided with the unpaid suspension of unvaccinated employees – meaning that only those injected with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were allowed to report for work on site.
More than 870 workers in Coca-Cola’s two facilities in Ontario had tested positive for COVID-19. Of this total, 224 workers – both union and non-union – came from the Brampton facility. As of March 9, 96 percent of Coca-Cola employees had received two doses of the vaccine.
Watch this interesting video that talks about a sample of Coca-Cola returning a positive COVID-19 test result.
This video is from The Smiths of Liberty channel on Brighteon.com.
by: Ramon Tomey
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