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City fires 29 employees for breach of trust

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

The city of Hamilton has fired 29 employees, and suspended without pay two other workers for 30 days for beach of trust.

“This sends a clear, basic message to the good workers to continue working hard, and to the bad workers to improve or they will be caught,” said Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson.

About two weeks ago the city suspended 30 employees for allegations that they were neglecting their duties, wasting time, and using company resources for private purposes. Ferguson said some of the employees worked less than half an hour a day.

The city fired the employees for time theft, and breach of trust.

“That will not be tolerated,” saidFerguson. “We want to make sure that is not happening.”

He said the city will be conducting phase two of the investigation to find out if those employees’ supervisors knew of the incidents.

He said the two employees who were only suspended admitted to city staff about the incidents. He said the other workers were not as forthcoming with information.

Ferguson said city officials found out about the issue last October. The city subsequently conducted an investigation, involving GPS information, and time study reviews. The city quickly suspended the workers, and reviewed the allegations. City staff provided an update to politicians at their Jan. 23 council meeting behind closed doors where the entire timeline of the incidents, and subsequent review was presented.Ferguson said the investigation cost about $18,000, since it had to be reviewed from an independent consultant.

“It was important we had to act quickly,” saidFerguson. “We also had to get it right.”

Since the revelation of the suspensions, councillors and city staff have fielded calls from the public about further incidents about city workers.

“There is a perception out there that this has been going on for decades,” he said. “You have to remember this is less than one per cent of our public work employees. Most of the employees do great work for our city and taxpayers.”

The issue also raised concerns from councillors who may look at not replacing the employees in an effort to save money.

“We will be challenging other departments to save money,” said Ferguson.

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