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Justice George Murphy's decision on injunction against protesting ironworkers at Corner Brook hospital site expected today

With structural steel of Corner Brook's new hospital complex rising up in the background, an ironworker protesting the lack of local jobs acknowledges a honk of support from a passing vehicle Wednesday afternoon.
With structural steel of Corner Brook's new hospital complex rising up in the background, an ironworker protesting the lack of local jobs acknowledges a honk of support from a passing vehicle Wednesday afternoon. - Gary Kean

Justice George Murphy is hoping to make a decision whether or not to grant an injunction against protesting ironworkers at the new hospital site in Corner Brook today.

Murphy said it will be tight trying to sift through all of the information provided and decide the case in such a short time, but acknowledged time is of the essence for all involved in such matters.

The court injunction was filed in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court by Marco Cahill Corner Brook Partnership, the contractor hired to build the long-term care portion of the regional hospital complex.

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The contractor wants to restrict access to the site by the protesters, who are a group of local ironworkers frustrated at not being able to get work on the project.

While the application for the injunction was filed against Local 764 of the International Association of Bridge, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, the protesters say they initiated the action at the site on their own and not under the direction of the union.

Murphy had heard arguments from both sides earlier this week, but wanted a little more information about the layout of the site before making his decision. That information was provided to the court Wednesday by way of a survey map of the site.

Kate O’Neill, the contractor’s lawyer, argued that the work site will eventually include a portion of the Lewin Parkway, which will at some point be widened to create extra lanes and ramps necessary to access the hospital. She asked that the court recognize this area as part of the work site now and order the protesters to not maintain their presence near the main entrance to the site from the ring road.

She said allowing the protest to continue in its current location, at the entrance to the site from the Lewin Parkway, is in violation of the property rights of the contractor that has been given care, custody and control of this site for the purposes of building the facility.

O’Neill said there are also concerns about the contractor being held liable for any damage done to property or any injury sustained by anyone present on an active construction site her client is considered responsible for.

Cathie Quinlan, who represented the union, said the union realizes the contractor will at some point be doing roadwork, but that time is still a long way off. She said the contractor has already acknowledged where the current areas of risk are by erecting fences, gates and signage — all of which are further in on the site from the Lewin Parkway entrance

Murphy also questioned O’Neill’s argument. He said taking her argument to its logical conclusion, the contractor could technically shut down the Lewin Parkway to all public vehicular and pedestrian traffic if it wanted to.

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