Big Brother on the rails

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:pi-via-rail-derailment-trac

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

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One thought on “Big Brother on the rails

  1. I read with interest you reporting on the position of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) as it relates to the possible introduction of Video and Voice recordings on Locomotives. I took special note of the comments attributed to an unnamed “veteran CN conductor and TCRC member” which reflected his apparent disagreement with the TCRC.

    With respect, what appears not to be considered by the unnamed conductor is the reality that the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) already has the right to install video and voice recordings in Locomotives.

    The “Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act” Section 28 states, in part, the following;

    28. (1) In this section, “on-board recording” means the whole or any part of
    ▪ (iii) the cab of a locomotive….
    …. o (b) a video recording of the activities of the operating personnel of an aircraft, ship, locomotive or pipeline
    that is made, using recording equipment that is intended to not be controlled by the operating personnel, on the flight deck of the aircraft, on the bridge or in a control room of the ship, in the cab of the locomotive or in a place where pipeline operations are carried out, as the case may be, and includes a transcript or substantial summary of such a recording.
    Privilege for on-board recordings
    (2) Every on-board recording is privileged and, except as provided by this section, no person, including any person to whom access is provided under this section, shall
    o (a) knowingly communicate an on-board recording or permit it to be communicated to any person; or
    o (b) be required to produce an on-board recording or give evidence relating to it in any legal, disciplinary or other proceedings.
    Access by Board
    (3) Any on-board recording that relates to a transportation occurrence being investigated under this Act shall be released to an investigator who requests it for the purposes of the investigation.
    Use by Board
    (4) The Board may make such use of any on-board recording obtained under this Act as it considers necessary in the interests of transportation safety, but, subject to subsection (5), shall not knowingly communicate or permit to be communicated to anyone any portion thereof that is unrelated to the causes or contributing factors of the transportation occurrence under investigation or to the identification of safety deficiencies.
    Access by peace officers, coroners and other investigators
    (5) The Board shall make available any on-board recording obtained under this Act to
    o (a) [Repealed, 1998, c. 20, s. 17]
    o (b) a coroner who requests access thereto for the purpose of an investigation that the coroner is conducting; or
    o (c) any person carrying out a coordinated investigation under section 18.
    Power of court or coroner
    (6) Notwithstanding anything in this section, where, in any proceedings before a court or coroner, a request for the production and discovery of an on-board recording is made, the court or coroner shall
    o (a) cause notice of the request to be given to the Board, if the Board is not a party to the proceedings;
    o (b) in camera, examine the on-board recording and give the Board a reasonable opportunity to make representations with respect thereto; and
    o (c) if the court or coroner concludes in the circumstances of the case that the public interest in the proper administration of justice outweighs in importance the privilege attached to the on-board recording by virtue of this section, order the production and discovery of the on-board recording, subject to such restrictions or conditions as the court or coroner deems appropriate, and may require any person to give evidence that relates to the on-board recording.
    Use prohibited
    (7) An on-board recording may not be used against any of the following persons in disciplinary proceedings, proceedings relating to the capacity or competence of an officer or employee to perform the officer’s or employee’s functions, or in legal or other proceedings, namely, air or rail traffic controllers, marine traffic regulators, aircraft, train or ship crew members (including, in the case of ships, masters, officers, pilots and ice advisers), airport vehicle operators, flight service station specialists, persons who relay messages respecting air or rail traffic control, marine traffic regulation or related matters and persons who are directly or indirectly involved in the operation of a pipeline.
    With respect, the position of the TCRC, if carefully read, clearly establishes the position that the implementation of such video and voice surveillance must ensure, in real terms, the protections as intended and required by the ACT. The TCRC takes the position that the conditions of implementation and usage must not extend beyond the scope of the Act.

    The position of the TCRC has been communicated to all interested parties. The TCRC intends to take an active role in ensuring the conditions of implementation and usage of voice and video recording meet the needs of the TSB in a manner that does not breach the rights and legitimate concerns of the TCRC or its Membership.

    The TCRC represents 10,000 plus members in the Rail Industry in Canada and is committed to protecting their rights but at the same time ensuring that Canada, in Rail Transport, is a World leader in Safety.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Rex Beatty,
    President – TCRC

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