Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

February 03, 2011 16:46 ET

CUPE Ontario: Labour Minister Must Immediately Investigate Toronto Hydro's Covert Surveillance of Health and Safety Activist

Government Must Defend All Ontario Workers From Harassment

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 3, 2011) - Ontario's Minister of Labour, Charles Sousa, must immediately investigate Toronto Hydro's harassment of a health and safety activist, including the covert surveillance of him and his family, as detailed in today's Toronto Star said the President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario Division.

"This government talks about making Ontario a safer place for workers but how safe is it if employers feel free to covertly harass and secretly follow the very people who ensure workers' safety?" asked Hahn.

"The McGuinty Government needs to take action. A full, transparent and immediate investigation of Toronto Hydro will send a signal to Ontario's employers that all workers in this province have the right to live free of harassment."

Internal Hydro documents obtained by CUPE Local One, and detailed in an article in today's Toronto Star, reveal Toronto Hydro conducted extensive surveillance of Joe Pessoa, the Union's Health and Safety Representative. Private investigators retained by Toronto Hydro billed ratepayers for hundreds of hours of surveillance, meals, mileage and other expenses while spying on Pessoa and his family.

When confronted directly by CUPE Local One President John Camilleri, Toronto Hydro then denied surveillance had taken place. Documents obtained by CUPE Local One under freedom of information confirmed the billing of Toronto Hydro, by a private firm, for the surveillance of Mr. Pessoa, including when he was not at work.

"It is outrageous to think that someone who has dedicated his life to ensuring that his co-workers are able to go home safely to their families every night would be subjected to these appalling tactics," said Hahn. "That this surveillance extended to his life outside of work, including his family, is simply beyond belief."

CUPE Local One has filed a complaint, under Section 96 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act, with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Hahn called on the Minister of Labour to further investigate whether Toronto Hydro's actions violated additional provincial laws, like the government's recently passed Bill 168 which makes workplace bullying and harassment illegal.

"Joe Pessoa's employer seems to have targeted him for his commitment to ensuring his co-workers had a safe working environment and for his union activism. I believe that is not the kind of Ontario any of us want to live and work in," said Hahn.

Contact Information

  • CUPE
    Fred Hahn
    President, CUPE Ontario
    416-540-3979
    or
    CUPE
    Kevin Wilson
    CUPE Communications
    416-821-6641
    www.cupe.on.ca