Toronto Hydro exec's caught in surveillance cover up of union official

TORONTO, Feb. 4 /CNW/ - On Friday February 4th, 2011 at 7:00 a.m., CUPE Local One members along with MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth), CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, John Cartwright President of the Toronto &York Region District Labour Council and several other labour activists converged on Toronto Hydro's 500 Commissioners Street Service Centre to show their anger towards Toronto Hydro for their unethical behavior and labour relation violations.  

CUPE Local One, the union representing workers at Toronto Hydro, is calling for "new leadership" at the utility after documents obtained through a freedom of information request proved that top management lied about hiring private investigators to tail Joe Pessoa, the union's Health and Safety Representative.

In June 2010 union officials received a tip about the surveillance and sent a letter to Anthony Haines, CEO of Toronto Hydro, asking him to confirm or deny the information. Mr. Haines replied through Ave Lethbridge (V-P, OD and Health & Safety also Toronto Hydro's Integrity Officer). The employer's letter stated that the allegations were "completely untrue" and that "there is no such surveillance investigation underway."

Internal Hydro documents, received by CUPE Local One on January 21, 2011, confirmed that Toronto Hydro had conducted extensive surveillance of the union Health and Safety Representative. The surveillance was conducted by teams of up to three private investigators working as many as 13 hours a day.

"By hiring private investigators to follow a union official, Toronto Hydro is committing a serious breach of labour relations, a violation of the union's rights under the law and a violation of the rights of members to be represented by union officials who are not subject to intimidation by the employer," said John Camilleri, President of CUPE Local One. "To then turn around and lie about it when challenged by the union takes the credibility of the CEO to a new low.  This is not how one of Canada's Top 100 Companies is supposed to operate"

"Although surveillance of employees by employers is not uncommon, covert surveillance of union officers by employers is almost unheard of in Canada," added the union president. "Toronto Hydro management's use of these extreme tactics is part of its ongoing efforts to silence the voice of CUPE Local One members on health and safety issues in our workplace. This is just the latest in a long list of tactics designed to silence worker opposition to unsafe cost-cutting measures by the employer."

"It's time for new leadership at Toronto Hydro. Camilleri told a throng of supports at today demonstration "A fresh start is urgently required on health and safety and labour relations".


For further information:

John Camilleri, President CUPE Local One (416-937-6930)

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CUPE Local One

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