News briefs

Corporate killing law used against firm; Public servants’ pay delayed due to shortage; Public service chief wants to end job-for-life reputation; Scientist fired, then rehired, after slamming ‘idiotic buzzwords’; Migrant farm workers to join union; Privacy lawsuit gets green light; Sweeping changes adopted for Richmond fire department
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/03/2006

Corporate killing law used against firm


— Police in Saint-¬Eustache, Que., have charged paving stone company Transpavé with criminal negligence causing the death of an employee under Bill C-45, the untested corporate killing law that came into force in 2004. Steve L’Ecuyer, 23, was killed last October after being crushed by a concrete press. An investigation by Quebec’s workplace health and safety commission found the optic security system had been “neutralized” and L’Ecuyer lacked the training to realize the danger. Transpavé said in a statement it will plead not guilty to the charge. No company directors or supervisors were charged, so jail time isn’t on the table, but Transpavé could be fined if found guilty. Under the Criminal Code, there is no limit on the fine that can be imposed.

Public servants’ pay delayed due to shortage


— Some federal bureaucrats are waiting months for raises, overtime and paycheques due to a shortage of pay clerks. One public servant told the media he’s still being paid the same salary he earned nine months ago, despite receiving two promotions in the meantime. The public service union says the problem is pay specialists aren’t paid enough so they quit or move to higher-paying jobs.

Public service chief wants to end job-for-life reputation


— The federal bureaucracy needs to shed its “jobs-for-life” reputation to become a more attractive and competitive workplace, said Privy Council Clerk Kevin Lynch in a speech on renewing the public service. With an aging population making it a challenge for the federal government to hire young people, the public service has to work on its brand, he added. A key piece in the renewal strategy is bringing executives and managers from outside the government to develop the next generation of leaders.

Scientist fired, then rehired, after slamming ‘idiotic buzzwords’


— A senior scientist working for the federal government was fired after he circulated an e-mail to colleagues objecting to a directive to refer to the Government of Canada as “Canada’s New Government,” sent by Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn. Andrew Okulitch of Salt Spring Island, B.C., who had the title of scientist emeritus and was working in an unpaid position following his retirement, replied to the e-mail directive saying he won’t use “idiotic buzzwords coined by political hacks.” An assistant deputy minister then told Okulitch he could no longer be part of the emeritus program. That decision was later reversed, Lunn told reporters. The e-mail directive shouldn’t have gone out to bureaucrats and the phrase was only meant for use in correspondence for the minister’s office, he added.

Migrant farm workers to join union


— Migrant farm workers at three farms in Quebec and one in Manitoba have voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. If certified, the workers will be able to negotiate wages and working conditions, which up until now have been set by the Mexican and Canadian governments under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. About 18,000 workers from Mexico and Caribbean countries come to Canada yearly under this program. Application hearings were scheduled for the end of September in Quebec and before the end of this month in Manitoba.

Privacy lawsuit gets green light


— Ontario’s highest court has given the green light to a lawsuit by prison guards who said their privacy was breached after inmates got a hold of their home addresses and phone numbers. The case stems from a flooding incident in 2003 at the Joyceville penitentiary in Kingston, Ont. The guards alleged while inmates mopped up the HR office, the addresses of employees were removed from a filing cabinet. The $7.5-million case, filed as a class action suit on behalf of 400 to 600 prison employees and spouses, claims workers and families experienced stress and anxiety after learning inmates knew where they lived.

Sweeping changes adopted for Richmond fire department

Richmond, B.C.

— The Richmond Fire and Rescue Department has let a culture of “juvenile and hostile behaviour” go unchecked for years, said mediator Vince Ready, who was brought in to deal with a harassment grievance filed by the union after four female firefighters left the job early this year. That culture has left women feeling unwelcome, unsafe and often unable to go to work, said Ready in his report released last month. Also last month, Richmond city council unanimously adopted sweeping changes to the fire department, including extensive training, changes to recruitment practices and reorganization at senior levels to include non-uniformed managers as part of the senior management team.

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