Tuesday, December 21, 2004

CN and union fight over hidden cameras leads to whistleblower charges

Below is a press-release issued by the CAW today:

Canada NewsWire - CAW to charge CN for threats to whistleblower:

"TORONTO, Dec. 21 /CNW/ - The Canadian Auto Workers union will file charges against Canadian National Railway for threatening to discipline a union representative who exposed CN's hidden surveillance cameras at its Winnipeg repair shops.

Les Lilley, the union chairperson representing 600 CAW members and a CN employee for more than 34 years, has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing to be held this afternoon. The allegations, which include 'insubordination,' could carry severe penalties ranging up to dismissal.

On November 24, workers in the Transcona Wheel Shop discovered a hidden surveillance camera in an air duct. Last Thursday, Queen's Bench Justice Wallace Darichuk granted the CAW's request for an injunction prohibiting CN from using all but four cameras in its Transcona Shops complex, and restricting the use of those four cameras to the protection of workers' safety. Les Lilley conducted the in-house investigation which brought the evidence of covert surveillance to light.

'The charges against Les are outrageous,' said CAW Local 100 Prairie Region vice-president Dennis Wray. 'CN is using intimidation and reprisal tactics to muzzle whistleblowers and divert attention from its own actions. This is the same disturbing pattern of corporate behaviour which helped trigger a month-long strike of 4,500 CAW members last winter.'

The CAW will charge CN under a section of the Canada Labour Code which bars employers from interfering with legitimate union activities. "Other charges may also be laid," said CAW national representative Abe Rosner in Montreal, "considering the proximity of the threats to the issuance of the court injunction."

Last week the union filed a grievance as well as a formal complaint to the federal Privacy Commissioner accusing CN of spying on Wheel Shop workers contrary to federal legislation and asking for punitive damages for loss of dignity and invasion of privacy. Those matters will be heard over the coming months."

No suggestion of looking for charges under PIPEDA's whistleblower provisions.

Update: See also Winnipeg Sun: NEWS - CN union to grieve hearing (2004.12.22)

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