10/17/2013 09:14 EDT | Updated 12/17/2013 05:12 EST

Calls to fire city worker in photo premature, union says

CUPE president Tim Maguire says a unionized city worker photographed with his head down on his desk has rights to due process despite calls from Mayor Rob Ford suggesting he should be fired.


Mayor Rob Ford wants rec staff fired over alleged sleeping on job

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti released a photo that he alleges shows the worker sleeping at their desk in the weight room of the Carmine Stefano Community Centre in his north Etobicoke ward.

The picture, taken from just outside the doorway of an office, shows a person in a dark, long-sleeved shirt slumped at a desk.

The photo raised a furor when it was shown to Ford, who said both the worker and his manager should be fired if it turns out the worker was asleep on the job.

Speaking Thursday on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, Maguire said the story amounts to a “media stunt” and said he believes the worker was on a scheduled break.

“Our assumption is that this person is on a morning break,” Maguire told host Matt Galloway. “It’s a right, not an excuse. But they have a right to rest on that break. Management has rights and responsibilities to investigate. It’s too easy to go to a microphone and say ‘fire someone.’”

Mammoliti said he has heard complaints for months from his constituents about the worker.

Maguire, however, said he knows who the worker is, and is not aware of any previous workplace problems with him.

“There is a certain irony here,” said Maguire. “Other employees of the city, including the mayor, have been accused of things and they’ve been protected by due process. Let’s let that due process work itself out to determine if there is something inappropriate being done here.”

After the story broke, Ford said he’s been working on contracting out some of the city’s parks and recreation services, but Maguire said this isn’t the case.

“We’re not aware of any discussions to contract out recreation facilities,” he said. “Most of the people that work in these facilities are minimum wage or near minimum wage workers. What are you going to contract it out to?”

Maguire said the city is looking into the matter and the union is assisting.