Employee health and safety mustn’t be compromised by flagrant disregard for well-established policies for dealing with threats, says President Tim Maguire
TORONTO, ONTARIO — The president of Canada’s largest local union is pledging to use ‘every tool at our disposal’ to identify why a ‘complete breakdown’ in city policies followed last Monday’s ‘bomb threat’ incident at Toronto City Hall.
“Our members are entitled to expect and have every right to expect a structured, rational response to threats, particularly when those threats could have an impact on their well-being,” said Tim Maguire, president of Local 79 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 79).
“Hundreds of CUPE 79 members work in Toronto City Hall. When incidents such as bomb threats occur, there are well-established policies and procedures – ones that are compliant with the prescriptions set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act – that are supposed to govern how they are dealt with,” he added.
Early Monday afternoon, the Ford brothers told media at a hastily-arranged scrum that a bomb threat had been e-mailed first to Councillor Doug Ford’s office, then to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly’s office, resulting in police and bomb-sniffing dogs sweeping City Hall.
“From the moment media were first alerted to the existence of a purported bomb threat, there flowed a complete breakdown of policies and procedures to deal with such threats,” said Maguire.
“It is not acceptable for policies governing employee health and safety to be infected by the same flagrant and casual disregard for the rules that seem to be a way of life in some quarters of City Hall these days,” he added.
Today, CUPE 79 intends to file a policy grievance and will assist individual members who wish to file individual grievances against the employer. Additionally, the union will be asking the Ministry of Labour to investigate the events of last week to determine if the city adhered to its own policies and whether the Occupational Health and Safety Act was in any way violated.
“We will also be requesting a report on the events of last Monday be produced by the Joint Health and Safety Committee. Taken together, these steps will hopefully provide the opportunity to reconstruct the events of last Monday to ensure such a complete breakdown of city health and safety policy never happens again,” said Maguire.
CUPE 79 President