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RMOW public works employees untarnished by Hamilton's maintenance staff fiasco

Whistler's mayor defends RMOW employees



Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden defended Whistler's municipal workers this week in the wake of the mass firing of public works employees in Hamilton, Ontario for allegedly skiving on the job.

Twenty-nine road maintenance workers in charge of filling potholes in the city streets, were fired for time theft, breach of trust and neglect of duties.

The workers are accused of spending their days shopping, going to coffee shops, napping in parks, and doing other personal errands, all while on the job, according to the results of a private investigation initiated by the city.

While Wilhelm-Morden sometimes hears complaints about Whistler's municipal workers, she defended their work ethic and highlighted the fruits of all their hard work.

"Periodically you hear of complaints of municipal workers not necessarily looking like they're working very hard but all you have to do is just go out and see on a snowy day how quickly our municipal roads are cleared, go into the village after a big event and see in the morning just how pristine everything looks again," she said. "We've got a pretty darn good crew of hard workers out there."

The mayor had read about the mass firings in Hamilton.

"Yes, not a happy story," said Wilhelm-Morden.

Hamilton city managers were alerted to suspicious data from the GPS devices in the city's road repair trucks in October. That sparked the private investigation into some of the crews.

The Globe and Mail reported that in one day the investigators found one crew worked for just 30 minutes.

In addition to the 29 dismissals, two more employees were suspended for a month without pay.

The city is now looking at doing a full forensic of work records to get a clearer picture, trying to determine how people in senior positions were unaware of the misuse of city time and resources.

It is also not clear what happened to all the asphalt that was supposed to be used to fill the potholes. That too is still under investigation.

While Whistler has two GPS systems on snow plows, the data is used to track environmental performance.

"It is not done to track the employees," said the mayor.

She remains unconcerned that what was happening in Hamilton could be happening in Whistler.

"That was one of the reasons why we entered into the Council Action Plan and then subsequently the Corporate Plan came into being because that has huge accountability measures in it, and those flow all the way through the organization," said Wilhelm-Morden. "So I personally am not concerned that we have any kind of situation like that here.

"(The performance measures are) in place for the senior staff and then down into the managers and supervisors. And then it's their job, as part of their performance agreements, to ensure that the people who are working for them are doing what they're supposed to be doing."