Canada’s largest local union intends to file a policy grievance, calling the handling of a bomb threat at city hall on Monday Aug. 11 a “complete breakdown” in Toronto's safety policies.
The union also intends to ask the Ministry of Labour to look into whether the city adhered to its own policies for such an event and whether the Occupational Health and Safety Act was violated.
The union will also be requesting a report on the handling of the bomb threat by the Joint Health and Safety committee and has offered to support any member wanting to file an individual grievance against the employer.
“Hundreds of CUPE 79 members work in Toronto City Hall. When incidents such as bomb threats occur, there are well-established policies and procedures – ones that are compliant with the prescriptions set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act – that are supposed to govern how they are dealt with,” said Tim Maquire, president of Local 79 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 79).
On Aug. 11, Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Councillor Doug Ford spoke to the media about an e-mailed bomb threat sent first to Doug and then to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly’s office.
Police and bomb-sniffing dogs were sent in to sweep city hall.
It is the involvement of the media at such an early point in the situation that the union takes issue with. Safety of employees should have been paramount, meaning proper procedures in place to deal with such threats should have been followed.
“It is not acceptable for policies governing employee health and safety to be infected by the same flagrant and casual disregard for the rules that seem to be a way of life in some quarters of city hall these days,” Maguire said.
“Our members are entitled to expect and have every right to expect a structured, rational response to threats, particularly when those threats could have an impact on their well-being,” he added.
CUPE 79 says it hopes the steps taken will ensure city health and safety policy is never breached again.