Work permit dispute a non-union matter

Foreign worker complained of employer’s lack of support for 3rd certification attempt; employer terminated him after 2nd failure
By Sergio Karas
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 04/04/2012

Discretionary duty of representation

When foreign workers apply for a work permit in Canada, it is usually to work in a specific job for a specific employer, who may help the worker in getting the permit. The work permit usually only permits the worker to work for that employer. As a result, the job is often already in place and the details have been worked out before the permit is approved.

If the foreign worker is unionized, to what extent does the union have to protect the worker’s status? This question was raised when an Alberta foreign worker complained his union didn’t meet its duty of fair representation by helping him convince his employer to let him take a trade exam — for a third time — that he needed to maintain his eligibility under his work permit, as well as address a change in his schedule in his original employment offer. Immigration lawyer Sergio Karas discusses the case and what employers with foreign workers should take from it.