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The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local One, the union representing workers at Toronto Hydro, is calling for new leadership at the utility after documents obtained through a freedom of information request proved that top management lied about hiring private investigators to tail Joe Pessoa, the union’s Health and Safety Representative.

In June 2010, union officials received a tip about the surveillance and sent a letter to Anthony Haines, CEO of Toronto Hydro, asking him to confirm or deny the information. Mr. Haines replied through Ave Lethbridge (Vice-President, Organizational Effectiveness and Environment, Health and Safety; and Toronto Hydro’s Integrity Officer). The employer’s letter stated that the allegations were “completely untrue” and that “there is no such surveillance investigation underway”.

Internal Hydro documents, received by CUPE Local One on January 21, 2011, (see Bulletins at www.cupeone.com) confirmed that Toronto Hydro had conducted extensive surveillance of the union Health and Safety Representative. The surveillance was conducted by teams of up to three private investigators working as many as 13 hours a day.

By hiring private investigators to follow a union official, Toronto Hydro is committing a serious breach of labour relations, a violation of the union’s rights under the law and a violation of the rights of members to be represented by union officials who are not subject to intimidation by the employer,” said John Camilleri, president of CUPE Local One. “To then turn around and lie about it when challenged by the union takes the credibility of the CEO to a new low. This is not how one of Canada’s Top 100 Companies is supposed to operate.”

Although surveillance of employees by employers is not uncommon, covert surveillance of union officers by employers is almost unheard of in Canada,” added the union president. “Toronto Hydro management’s use of these extreme tactics is part of its ongoing efforts to silence the voice of CUPE Local One members on health and safety issues in our workplace. This is just the latest in a long list of tactics designed to silence worker opposition to unsafe cost-cutting measures by the employer.

It’s time for new leadership at Toronto Hydro. A fresh start is urgently required on health and safety and labour relations,” stated John Camilleri.

Attention Photo Editors: On Friday, February 4, 2011 at 7:00 a.m., CUPE Local One will be having a demonstration at the company’s 500 Commissioner Street Service Centre.

For further information, please contact:

John Camilleri, President, CUPE Local One, 416-937-6930
Ian Thompson, CUPE National Representative, 647 281-5260
Wendy Forbes, CUPE Communications Representative, 416 292-3999