Source: The Toronto Star
Minister 'not happy' workers must be rehired
Ontario's minister of natural resources says he's "not happy" an arbitrator is forcing the government to rehire six workers who were fired three years ago for swapping pornographic e-mails at work.
"To know that this number of employees were spending a part of their working day — sponsored by the taxpayers of Ontario — transferring this type of smut and filth that poisons the workplace and threatens and intimidates people is just wrong," David Ramsay said today.
"I'm not happy with it and I'm not happy with the idea that we're going to have to take them back."
The government doesn't have all the reasons behind the arbitrator's decision, and until then it can't decide whether it will appeal the ruling, he added.
Ramsay also said he's not sure if the arbitrator will award the workers back pay for the three years since they were fired, nor does he know what kind of penalty these workers will face, although he said he hopes it is "stiff."
Two of the fired workers are expected to be back on the job shortly, he said.
In a ruling issued on June 18, the arbitrator found that although the six exchanged the e-mails, the government did not have just cause to fire them.
Ramsay said 83 workers were disciplined in the case in 2001, with punishments ranging from letters of reprimand to firings.
As a result of those decisions, the workers' union filed 27 grievances, with the firings being the first to be heard by the arbitrator.
Don Eady, the lawyer for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union who represented the six fired workers, said the union always believed the workers had to be reprimanded, but that being fired was too harsh since they were all first-time offenders.