By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton’s continuing investigation into public works employees for neglecting their duty is now focused on supervisors who could also face suspensions or even firings.
“We will act accordingly,” said City Manager Chris Murray. “We can’t rule out anything at this point.”
The city fired 29 employees Jan. 28 for neglect of duty, and suspended two others for 30 days without pay. A two-week investigation, which cost $18,000, using GPS data, found some employees only worked a half hour per day, while other workers were using city resources for personal use, and selling asphalt from the back of vehicles. Mayor Bob Bratina said the opening of the city’s asphalt plant last September triggered the investigation by city staff.
“This will not be tolerated,” said Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson. “There is a perception that this has been happening for decades. That is unfair to the majority of our workers who do a great job.”
Lloyd said the city shouldn’t have to replace those jobs that were lost. He also urged other city departments to make sure nothing is wrong.
Murraysaid city staff is now concentrating on those fired workers’ supervisors and what they knew about how they were performing at their jobs. He said the investigation is expected to take “days rather than weeks” to complete.
Bratina characterized the incidents as “unprecedented” for Hamilton.
“I hope we completely analyze the origins of this, and let the chips fall where they may,” Bratina told the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce, during his third State of the City address Jan 29 at the Grand Olympia.
“We have an opportunity now, and I’m sure the public is behind this, to get to the bottom of this. The good ones and that is most of (the city employees) are just as embarrassed.”
Murraysaid it’s premature to characterize the investigation as looking into corruption at city hall. He said the issue began last fall due to a failure of worker performance and expectations.
“If it is tipping into a criminal matter, then that’s the point when we will engage the police,” saidMurray.
He said city officials have been in contact with Hamilton Police officials, but they have not been asked to get involved in the investigation.
“That’s the whole point of the investigation,” he said. “It’s where we are at (so) staff can make that conclusion.”
Canadian Union of Public Employees 5167 issued a news release Jan. 28 stating the union will keep tabs on how the investigation proceeds.
“We will represent the investigated workers to ensure due process is followed,” it stated.