Lack of evidence sinks Wal-Mart

A Saskatchewan court has dismissed a charge by retail giant Wal-Mart Canada that the province’s labour relations board is biased against it. Wal-Mart wanted the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench to bar the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board, as presently constituted, from hearing or making any orders involving Wal-Mart after its former vice-chair went public with complaints about interference by the province. But the retailer simply didn’t have enough evidence to prove there was any bias at the labour board.
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Wal-Mart became concerned about the Saskatchewan Labour Board’s objectivity following comments made by Walter Matkowski, the former vice-chair of the board. His term expired on March 1, 2006, and was not renewed. He said his departure came about through the influence of certain unions with the Department of Labour. He launched an action for damages alleging wrongful conduct by the province.

Matkowski took part in an interview in which he suggested the province’s Department of Labour interfered with the operation of the board. An example he gave was that the department required members of the board to read the newsletter of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. Articles in that publication were critical and disparaging of Wal-Mart. The matter was discussed in the Saskatchewan legislature. When Wal-Mart became aware of these circumstances, it filed the application.

Wal-Mart said the actions of the union, the interference by the province’s NDP government and the presence of certain publications demonstrate the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board is biased or, at the very least, there is justification for reasonable apprehension of bias against Wal-Mart.