Your component executive and the union leadership have been hard at work lobbying for changes to Workers' Compensation Board (WorkSafeBC) regulations that will assist members who work in Adult Custody, Youth Custody and Sheriffs Services in dealing with workplace safety and violence in the workplace. It has been a long fight but slowly progress is being made on this vital issue.
In order to apply more public pressure to achieve these changes, we will soon be launching the second phase of our Prison Safety Now campaign. This will be an exciting opportunity for us to bring attention to our important work to the general public.
As we gear up for that launch, we want to share our progress to date. Since we began the Prison Safety Now campaign in 2016, we have raised the attention of government, WorkSafeBC, the media and the public. That has resulted in government beginning to work with the union as we push for amendments to the WorkSafeBC regulations that would allow us to change the regulations on officer-to-inmate ratios as they pertain to workplace safety and violence.
As a union, we stand together to fight for change, and this campaign would not be possible without the support of Component 1 members. It all began with a photo shoot to demonstrate the impact of unsafe ratios on our work. Dozens of our members were involved in the photos we created, and those impactful images formed the backbones of our campaign materials: the Prison Safety Now website, sponsored Facebook advertising, billboards around the province, T-shirts for members, magnets, buttons, e petition postcards and more.
Since then, we've raised the issues most important to our members in a number of other ways, including:
- Resolutions presented at the BCGEU Triannual Convention in June of 2014 which included
- D261-Ratios and staffing
- D262-Regulation changes, staffing levels in direct supervision living units
- D263-First Responder recognition
- D266-Use of employee number instead of name on uniform badges
- D267-Changes to the CORNET system requiring the name of the officer in entries.
- Rallies that have taken place around the province protesting ongoing violence and lack of support for correctional officers :
- April 11, 2017 Picketing WCB head office in Richmond
- February 22, 2019 Fraser Regional Correctional Centre
- March 8, 2019 Surrey Pretrial Services Centre
- March 29, 2019 Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre
- June 3, 2019 Prince George Regional Correctional Centre
- Meeting with Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth on October 23, 2018 along with a letter that was sent on March 25, 2019 expressing the union's commitment to continuing working with the government on issues related to workplace safety and violence.
- Your Component 1 Vice President & Chair Dean Purdy, Component 1 1st Vice Chair Brandon Cox and BCGEU Director Doug Dykens met with senior WCB officials on early in our campaign and again on May 31, 2019 to strongly express our concerns, forcing Work Safe BC to conduct province wide inspections at all 10 jails resulting in 72 orders being written against the Corrections Branch, including the order that resulted in OC Spray being issued for all corrections officers province-wide.
- Efforts continue at our labour/management (Article 29) committee level to address workplace issues and safety.
- Attendance at the National Union of Public and General Employees annual Corrections Conference on Safety and Violence.
- Recognition as first responders for both Corrections Officers and Sheriffs, and recognition of such - the presumptive clause - when filing PTSD claims with WorkSafeBC.
- Special thanks to CO Robert Gagnon from PGRCC whose walk from Prince George to Victoria brought attention to this important issue.
- Multiple media interviews which can be viewed by clicking here.
- Facebook ad for launch of the Prison Safety Now campaign including info graphics.
- C1 Vice-president appointed to be part of an independent review of the workers' compensation system which will look into legislative and policy changes which have made the WorkSafeBC system unbearable for injured workers.
Looking back at the amount of work that has been done to this point shows how well the campaign has worked towards making the changes necessary. We want to keep this momentum going through the next phase of the campaign, including: more rallies at prisons around the province, new social media ads, updated website and a video about safety and the violent situations faced by members due to the current failing system.
As we move through this next phase we will be providing updates to members and calling on your support and participation as we move through this next phase. We encourage members to visit the Component 1 website for regular updates on the campaign and other news.
Prison Safety Now photos:
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