MKD’s experienced staff keeps watchful eye during strikes
By AdvocateDaily.com Staff
Downs tells AdvocateDaily.com that his firm has done work for both management and unions across the province, typically surveilling picket line activity once a strike is underway.
“There are rules of engagement when it comes to strikes, and whichever side of the table we’re working for, the primary objective is to capture evidence of any breaches of those rules,” he says.
When acting for employers, including mining companies in the far north of Ontario, Downs says the job may start before workers have even walked off the job.
“Depending on the circumstances, we might do a site security review to make there are no vulnerabilities,” he says.
However, the bulk of his team’s work involves undercover camera operators capturing video footage from the front line of the strike once it gets underway.
“If there is any conduct that is contrary to the rules of engagement, then we will prepare a report, and the client can take the evidence that we collect to use in proceedings before the labour board or a court,” Downs says, explaining that management will often seek injunctions prohibiting unions from certain activity on or near the employer’s premises.
“You also want to have some accountability should there be any damage to company property, or to the property of personnel who are not involved in the strike,” he adds.
On the flip side of the coin, Downs says unions typically approach MKD for similar reasons to their management counterparts.
“They have the same aims — to ensure everyone is playing by the rules,” he says. “The only difference is that their evidence will be used to pursue grievances and injunctions against the company.”
Although outbreaks of violence are rare, Downs says the emotional nature of strike action can cause situations to escalate quickly. When they do, he says the experience of his staff shines through.
MKD is the only firm of its size in Canada where all of its investigators are former police officers.
“If you’ve got non-union workers coming in, things can get heated,” Downs says. “When people are driving through and feeling rushed, it’s possible for someone to get harmed.”