Thursday, December 23, 2004

More hidden video cameras - this time in a correctional facility

Privacy battles in the workplace are increasingly being fought over the newswires. Below is the latest, based on an allegedly hidden video camera at a Canadian prison:

Hidden video surveillance of correctional officers at Leclerc Institution; Correctional Service Canada wrongly blames union for its own illegal acts:

"MONTREAL, Dec. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Following several media reports December 23, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) is compelled to comment on the discovery of a hidden surveillance camera at Leclerc Institution, a medium-security penitentiary in Laval.

A correctional officer at Leclerc Institution discovered a video camera hidden in a defective emergency light during the evening of September 21, 2004. As soon as the officer moved the light, the preventive security officers and the assistant warden at Leclerc quickly intercepted him. They then lied to him about the purpose of the camera and threatened him with reprisals if he did not keep this discovery secret. He refused and was suspended without pay for seven days for having "damaged government material". The suspension has been grieved.

Following a meeting with the Acting Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, Mr. Don Head, UCCO-SACC-CSN was satisfied that this was an isolated incident and would not be repeated. Mr. Head stated to the union that only he can authorize the installation of hidden electronic surveillance, and that he did not do so in this case, or at any other penal institution in Canada.

However, UCCO-SACC-CSN is now compelled to publicly comment following defamatory statements by Leclerc Assistant Warden Pierre Gauthier in the Dec. 23 edition of the Journal de Montréal. Mr. Gauthier stated the camera was installed to catch correctional officers in the act of vandalism and intimidating management staff. He also stated the camera respected the Privacy Act and CSC policies.

"Both statements are untrue," said Mr. Pierre Dumont, Quebec Region President of UCCO-SACC-CSN. "This camera was installed illegally, and UCCO-SACC-CSN has filed a complaint over the incident with the federal Privacy Commissioner, Ms. Jennifer Stoddart."

This case is all the more disturbing because it was followed by an incident at William Head Institution, a minimum-security penitentiary near Victoria, BC. Two CSC managers from this institution will face criminal charges in a trial beginning next month in Vancouver over a case of illegal electronic surveillance.

Both the BC and Quebec incidents are illegal attempts to harass the union representing correctional officers in Canada, notes UCCO-SACC-CSN National President Sylvain Martel. He said it is typical behaviour in a situation in which the federal government is refusing to negotiate a renewal to their labour agreement that has been expired since June 2002.

"Certain CSC managers believe themselves to be above the law," said Mr. Martel. "But this union will ensure that even CSC managers cannot break Canadian laws."

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) is the official bargaining agent for 5,700 correctional officers in 54 federal institutions across Canada.

For further information: Lyle Stewart, CSN communications advisor, (514) 796-2066"

In light of the inflamatory language in the release, I'd just like to mention that I am simply quoting verbatim from the union's press release and I will happy publish a rebuttal from Corrections Canada.

Interesting stuff ...

More coverage: CBC Montreal - Guards want warden charged over spy camera

No comments: