“We don’t know of any morale issues”

“Most of us apply filters to to the things we say, and, most of the time, that’s a very good thing.But we become so skilled at censoring ourselves and filtering our thoughts that we can lose site of our ability to be frank and honest – sometimes even with ourselves. That’s not so good. “  ~ Doug Firby “Unfiltered”  (from www.dougfirby.ca – which has been password protected since this link was made)

On January 19, 2011  some Sunshine Village ski patrollers chose to not show up for work in protest of the firing of another patroller, concerns over loss of senior staff and resulting perceived safety issues that they felt were not being heard by Sunshine Village management.  As a result of the walk-out only three lifts were operating that day at Sunshine Village.  By late morning, the walk-out had garnered immediate and massive media interest and coverage.

Doug Firby is Associate Director, Communications, Media and Marketing, for Sunshine Village Corporation. He reports directly to John and Ralph Scurfield.  Firby made the following statements to the media that day:

“We don’t know of any morale issues,”  ~Doug Firby (Calgary Herald January 19, 2011)

(Firby) said he hopes the sick patrollers are feeling better and back at work on Thursday. “We’re taking them at their word on that,” he said. “I mean the best thing would be for them to just talk directly to us about whatever issues might be on their mind.” (CBC January 19, 2011)

Doug Firby, a spokesperson for Sunshine Village, questioned the authenticity of the calls to the media, telling Fast Forward Weekly, “We actually don’t know whether these people are actually Sunshine staff or not.” Management, he added, has not heard of any of the allegations firsthand, nor can it discuss any personel issues publicly. (FFWD Weekly – Jan 19, 2011)

The following internal Sunshine Village email from that day was sent out at 10:03 AM well before any patroller or Doug Firby spoke to the media and shows that Sunshine already did in fact know the real nature of the walk-out and the reasons for it.  The email refers to known “internal issues” with staff and directs front-line workers on what to say to customers who apparently, so it states, didn’t need to know the truth of the matter.  The email makes  it clear that the request comes directly from Sunshine Village management.

So when Doug Firby told the media later that day that Sunshine Village was completely surprised, had not heard the allegations, did not know of any morale issues and was not sure these were even Sunshine Village staff – either he wasn’t in the loop or he simply wasn’t telling the unfiltered truth to the reporters.

Despite Firby’s assurances to the patrollers that they should “talk directly” to management, two more patrollers were  fired the following day for expressing their safety concerns on camera.

Many more senior staff have left since and are continuing to leave.

Here’s the “unfiltered” internal email that shows what Sunshine management knew that day and when they knew it!

From: Steve Novak
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 10:03 AM
To: All Aramark
Subject: Happenings today

Good morning,

With todays lift interruptions I want to ensure that we stay focused on serving our guests with nothing but the best quality product and attention. Any guest who paid for a lift pass today should have received a $20.00 voucher from guest services. If they did not on their way up they may pick it up at the end of their day. The only guests who do not receive a voucher will be season pass holders.

It is important that we help communicate this message as much as possible.

Our guest does not need to know about the internal issues Sunshine is having with its staff so please use the response of “unexpected lift interruption” when people ask why we are only running with 3 lifts. This is the request of Sunshine management.

If you have any questions about today please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Skier count may get just over 1000 today so please be diligent with staffing levels. Remember, do not sacrifice the guest experience!

 Thanks,

 Stephen Novak
General Manager – Food & Beverage and Retail
Aramark Sports, Entertainment & Conventions West Region
Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort
p 403 762 6584 | c 403 431 4331

steve.novak@skibanff.com

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