MONTREAL – “Too little, too late”was the reaction of the Syndicat des fonctionnaires municipaux de Montréal (SFMM, CUPE 429) to the mea culpa from the director of the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SIM). Serge Tremblay took to the media Sunday to acknowledge ongoing problems with psychological harassment within the Montreal fire department.
The unhealthy climate led to the suicide of one employee, Stéphane Archambault, in October 2012. The white-collar workers’ union noted that it had been stepping up its efforts for years to change this climate.
“Our union representing a total of more than 10,000 members has been systematically denouncing the diseased climate at the fire department,” stated SFMM President Alain Fugère. “This has included filing a collective grievance in 2011. Management has turned a deaf ear to us all this time. Now it’s as if the director is waking up all of a sudden, maybe because he’s worried about his own job. You’ll have to forgive us if we seem a little bitter and skeptical.”
The SFMM has confirmed that it filed a series of grievances following the suicide of Mr. Archambault along with a complaint to the CSST. Although he held a management position at the time of his death, Mr. Archambault retained administrative ties with his former unionized position. The union consequently resolved to provide its usual support to the family of the deceased. In the months following the tragedy, the SFMM maintained a low public profile on the matter out of respect for the family’s wishes.
“It’s fine for the director to express his regrets, but I’m still not sure that he’s fully aware of the scope and causes of the problem,” said Alain Fugère. “Regardless, we’re going to continue our efforts to restore a healthy work climate at the Montreal fire department.”
In the December 2012 issue of the union publication ColBlanc, SFMM Vice-president Dominic Charland wrote, “Based on the written evidence he left behind and the information and conversations he shared with his wife and children, Stéphane [Archambault] associated his distress with the intimidation and psychological harassment he was suffering at work.”
The Syndicat des fonctionnaires municipaux de Montréal (SFMM, CUPE 429) represents approximately 300 employees of the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal, including fire prevention officers, central alarm dispatchers, secretaries and desk officers. Representing a total of more than 10,000 municipal and paramunicipal white-collar employees, it is the largest municipal-sector union in Quebec.
For more information:
Sébastien Goulet, CUPE Communications, 438-882-3756
Marie-Hélène Bélanger, CUPE Representative, 514-518-6096