Friday, October 08, 2004
POLITICS AS USUAL: WANT TO ROOT OUT INCOMPETENCE? START WITH THE OPSEU LEADERSHIP
BILL CARROLL (HOST): Before we move on, OPSEU president Leah Casselman joins us. Thanks for doing this; we appreciate it.
LEAH CASSELMAN: Thanks.
CARROLL: The Withering Trillium Award, what are you trying to accomplish with this? What's the goal here?
CASSELMAN: Well, we're trying to tell the premier that there are a couple more broken promises that he needs to step up to. One is we think it's important for the public for whistle-blowing legislation. They've given it to the meat inspectors when they were brought back in, but we think that the public would be better served if all of the public servants had whistle-blowing legislation, and quite frankly, our members have not seen much change since the bureaucrats under the Tories are still running the show.
CARROLL: What does this have to do with the individual performance of managers?
CASSELMAN: Well, those managers under the Tories were given bonuses because of the number of people they were able to lay off, so that has been cancelled by the Liberals, which we're pleased about.
CARROLL: Well, but wait a second. I'm on your website. The Withering Trillium Award is for a manager, a unit manager or employer, that demonstrates in the finest tradition of management a complete lack of understanding, skill, knowledge, fairness or competence.
CARROLL: What does that have to do with the government? We're talking about the managers in the civil service who manage people on a day-to-day basis here.
CASSELMAN: That's right, and we're hoping that this new government will give them a new mandate on how to treat people fairly, because under the Tories, they were very adamant about treating our people very poorly and laying them off on a regular basis.
CARROLL: So you want to publicly humiliate people who have families, wives, kids to go home to; you want to make them look like jerks because you disagree with the government? Why don't you embarrass the government, then?
Why don't you do this for members of provincial Parliament? Why are you picking on people that have to work day-to-day with your membership?
CASSELMAN: Well, probably because of the attitudes that they've shown our membership over the years, and our members are very frustrated with their activities...
CARROLL: Well, what would you think of a manager who did this to one of your members, who put a sign up every month, "The Worst Employee of the Month," and told the world about how bad they were. Is that the kind of management you would encourage, or is that the kind of management you're fighting against?
CASSELMAN: That's that the kind of management we've been fighting against all along. We've been trying to get this Liberal government to recognize they need to change direction. The Premier himself is frustrated he can't get things changed in the government, and...
CARROLL: Alright. So bad behaviour is not acceptable...
CASSELMAN: The Tory bureaucrats are still running the show; no wonder you're frustrated.
CARROLL: Come on, Leah. Bad behaviour is not acceptable for managers but it's OK for you?
CASSELMAN: Our members are very frustrated there's been no change in direction under this new government, and they want to see themselves treated properly.
CARROLL: I thought this story was bad enough. I thought it showed immaturity, adversarial positioning, clumsy poor management technique, but now that I realized you just want to change what the government is doing and you're picking on middle managers to do it, this is worse than I thought.
Don't you see the irony in this? You're behaving in the very worst ways that managers behave because you object to how badly they treat people.
CASSELMAN: Well, if we had an opportunity to sit down and talk to this new government about the direction that this public service should be going in without them listening to the Tory bureaucrats that are still in place, we might be a little more open to sitting down with them, but they're not opening the door for us. Our members are still very frustrated.
CARROLL: You should be ashamed of yourself, Leah. You should be ashamed of yourself that you're picking on people who have jobs, who work for... it doesn't matter what the government is. They didn't elect them. They are just doing their job, and you're going to publicly shame them to make a point about Dalton McGuinty? As someone who doesn't like the McGuinty government, even I'm offended by this.
CASSELMAN: Well, I'm sorry you're offended by it...
CARROLL: Every single caller...
CASSELMAN: ... but our members are very frustrated with this employer...
CARROLL: Every single caller who phoned us is offended by it.
CASSELMAN: ... and the directions of this employer are delivered through their management group, and our members have not seen any change in that direction since the Liberal government was brought in, and their frustration level is very high as well.
CARROLL: So people who are just doing what they're told to do, they're following their instructions, you're going to publicly humiliate to change the instructions? Good for you, Leah. It's a proud day.
CASSELMAN: Well, I think it's a great day for our membership. They're trying to get their frustration out, 'cause obviously the employer won't listen to them. They either can't get through the bureaucracy to talk to the politicians or the politicians are not interested in finding out what's really going on in the workplace.
CARROLL: And all the while we thought it was the Harris government that was so adversarial. I guess you've shown another face now, Leah.
CASSELMAN: [Laughter.] We're willing to fight for quality public services in this province, and if it means taking on the bureaucrats who are stopping us from doing it, we'll do that too.
CARROLL: Oh my goodness. Thank you, Leah.
CASSELMAN: You're welcome.
CARROLL: Leah Casselman, my first nominee for the Withering Trillium Award. I got to stay with this now.
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