A union representing thousands of Canadian workers in armoured cash trucks believes thieves are capitalizing on industry cutbacks, putting guards at risk.
A Toronto guard was shot four times early Thursday during a run at a bank near Avenue Rd and Lawrence Ave, when he and his partner were ambushed by three men. Police say it is the second time the pair of guards had been targeted in recent weeks.
Craig Hallikainen has worked on an armoured vehicle in Toronto for seven years. He services the same area, but different banks than the one attacked. He has not been threatened.
"The only difference in our crews is, I have a three person crew and they have a two person crew", says Hallikainen. "It makes a big difference."
Hallikainen says by paring teams down, cash truck companies can present banks and other clients with lower bids for service and win more contracts. But he says being down a body can leave guards vulnerable. On Hallikainen's three-person team, the driver never leaves the vehicle and can relay messages about potential dangers outside by radio.
He says more and more, companies are cutting the number of staffers on their cash trucks, and in some smaller communities, leaving guards unarmed as they move huge quantities of money in the middle of the night.
Hallikainen and his union, Unifor are renewing their call for federal standards for the staffing of armoured vehicles and guard training.
As it is, Hallikainen says training at his shop is "completely inadequate" and admits to feeling unsafe at work "a lot of times". Across the industry, he says training practices are "erratic", different from place to place, company to company.
He says Thursday's shootout underlines the importance of solid training. "You have to be prepared because everything happens so very, very quickly."
Hallikainen says while armoured car companies train guards "as best they can", it comes at a cost. He suggests workers may not the getting the learning and preparation they truly need to feel safe in order to keep costs down and keep companies competitive.
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