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Workers walk out over Orwellian TV monitors

The Story

"One beams directly on the bathroom door," explains union organizer Madeleine Parent about the cameras at a Toronto textile factory. In 1978, workers at Puretex Knitting Factory go on strike because management refuses to remove the intrusive television cameras. In this CBC Television clip, Parent says the surveillance cameras are particularly discriminatory because they monitor a shift of female immigrant workers, and are then turned off for a men's shift that arrives later in the day. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 28, 1978
Guests: Mirella Depiro, Madeleine Parent
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Frank Hilliard
Duration: 2:31

Did You know?

• The Puretex employees were on strike for a total of three months.

• The number of employees that walked out was 220.

• Puretex president Gary Satok said the cameras were installed to hinder theft. In the 20 years that he was president, Satok noted 10 occasions of theft or suspected theft.

• An arbitrator ruled that the cameras were "anti-human" and ordered them removed by June 29, 1979.

• The ruling came two and a half years after the union first began their complaints about the cameras.

• The Canadian Textile and Chemical Union (CTCU) had filed two grievances with the company about the cameras. These were dropped. The union then worked for two years with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in an attempt to get the cameras removed.

• The arbitrator's decision did not include three storage room cameras, which he said could remain for theft prevention.

• At the time of this CBC News report, Madeleine Parent was treasurer-secretary of the CTCU. She and her husband Kent Rowley formed the union in 1952 in search of autonomy from American textile unions. On Nov. 11, 1946, Parent and Rowley established a Canadian arm of the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA).

• In 1946, the UTWA had 15,000 Canadian members.

• Parent continued her activism as a member of aboriginal and impoverished women's committees, and by becoming a founding member of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. She retired from unionism in 1983.



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