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“Elite strike security for image-conscious clients”

Halifax Water hires global security company

by Robert Devet

The cupboards may be bare, but Halifax Water did find money to hire an expensive Ontario security company that specializes in strike security and strike breaking. Photo contributed
The cupboards may be bare, but Halifax Water did find money to hire an expensive Ontario security company that specializes in strike security and strike breaking. Photo contributed

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) - Halifax Water has hired an Ontario security company specializing in strikes to keep a watchful eye on union members walking the picket lines.

Members of Locals 227 and 1431 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are on strike to defend their wages and pension plan.

AFIMAC Canada, a subsidiary of AFIMAC Global, with headquarters in Miami, offers “emergency response and strike security, risk management and business continuity services to image conscious companies across North America,” its website states.

Security staff at the Halifax Water picket line locations carry AFIMAC patches on their uniforms.

CUPE suspects that few if any AFIMAC workers are from Nova Scotia.

Indeed, AFIMAC Canada job postings specify a willingness to travel anywhere in Canada as a mandatory requirement. On job review panels security workers tend to praise the generous per diem and the hotels where they stay during assignments.

Union members wonder about the extra expense that must entail. Flights, and hotel costs must add up, they say.

During a 2014 faculty strike that lasted about two weeks University of New Brunswick administration hired AFIMAC security staff to keep an eye on its picketing professors.

Freedom of Information requests revealed that UNB paid AFIMAC $203,000 for that service.

With 11 separate picket locations in Halifax that bill could get a lot higher very quickly for Halifax Water management.

AFIMAC services may be limited to “strike security” at this time, but the company offers much more.

Scab workers are also part of the package.

“AFIMAC provides everything from detailed planning and mitigation services to highly trained tactical security officers, replacement workers, and logistics equipment, including laundry, shower and kitchen trailers, base camps and sleeping quarters,” AFIMAC Global CEO Peter Martin explains to a Miami Herald reporter.

“We’ll also supply kitchen staff and logistics personnel to set up, run and repair any and all of the equipment deployed,” Martin says.

And the job posting includes openings for undercover investigators. Experience is a definite asset, that posting states.

AFIMAC Canada was also used during the nearly eleven months Labatt Brewery strike in St. John's in 2013-14.

Striking workers complained about intimidation by the AFIMAC security staff.

"They're following our members around the city. Trying to provoke argument, continuously. Trying to goad our members into violating the court injunction," one worker told Rabble at the time.

Halifax Water did not respond to our questions at the time of posting.


See also: Halifax Water pension battles and the hidden agenda

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter    @DevetRobert



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