Following decades-old recommendations from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), Canada’s major rail interests have moved to support the installation of in-cab video and audio recording equipment, ostensibly for safety reasons. In a press release, CN has stated that it is “ready to pay to install and maintain in-cab recorders so long as it can deploy them within the framework of its Safety Management System”, meaning that the technology can be used for disciplinary purposes. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) , which represents engineers and conductors at CN, CPR, and VIA, has offered marginal support for the technology, provided the data cannot be used beyond a safety investigation. In a letter to the membership, TCRC President, Rex Beatty issued the following statement:
The TCRC supports the implementation of LVVR [Locomotive Voice and Video Recording technology] on certain conditions. Where LVVR is clearly and demonstrably necessary and has probative value to enhance Canada’s Rail Safety System, the TCRC will support its implementation on the condition that access to any data is controlled and restricted to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).
But even this step has raised flags with one veteran CN conductor and TCRC member, who fears what the technology will mean for workers.
It’s with much trepidation and disappointment that I read the recent announcement by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference President Rex Beatty of their support for the introduction of Locomotive Voice and Video Recording technology to the Rail industry.
This is without question one of the most grave faux pas made by Union leadership ever regarding the infringement of members rights and freedom and invasion of their personal right to privacy.
All this is done without any consultation, input, or feedback from any of the rank and file membership.
Additionally, there isn’t any mention of a single condition under which this implementation of LVVR devices will be acceptable. These conditions need to be made known and the Union leadership must be completely transparent on this issue and respect the voice of the rank and file membership on the issue, which us to have nothing at all to to do with the implementation of LVVR equipment and devices.
The introduction of such equipment and devices to the rail industry would be a first and set a disastrous precedent. There are no other such devices, restrictions, or invasion of workers rights, freedom, and privacy in any other industry, namely, the Bus or Airline places of work. They don’t exist there.
The two propositions of protecting the rights of workers to their privacy and freedom and implementing LVVR for the purpose of enhancing Rail Safety are mutually exclusive. It’s tantamount to praying for peace in a war zone with a gun in your hand preparing to shoot at the enemy.
The introduction and implementation of LVVR technology will shepherd in a whole new era of workplace harassment, intimidation, and discipline with little if any defence to management’s dragnet for individuals and offences management variously chooses to punish.
A Concerned TCRC Member