Below you can find general articles or bulletins that we have published regarding COVID-19.
For job-specific news, please choose a work sector here.
May 15, 2020
Dear OHS Worker Representative
THANK YOU OHS WORKER REPRESENTATIVES (INCLUDING COMMITTEE MEMBERS)!
I am writing to personally thank you for the work you have done as a BCGEU OHS Worker Representative for your worksite during this exceptional period.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, OHS Worker Representatives and committees have been called upon like never before. Many of you have been involved in working through your committee and employer to develop Exposure Control Plans (ECPs), risk assessments, and ensuring the workplace is safe. You are doing this during a time when a "safe" workplace is rapidly being redefined in the context of Covid-19.
Along with the Shop Stewards, you have often been the face of our union at your worksite during this pandemic. You are truly a frontline worker, providing critical support and advocacy for your colleagues to ensure the worksite is safe, that there are adequate controls, and personal protective equipment in place. You have shown that you are a true leader in your workplace.
With all this in mind, we will be looking to many of you and your leadership as the province heads into phase 2 of its Covid-19 response, which will see some sectors begin to re-open. As you likely know, this is expected to start next week. It means on many worksites the return to work plans, and how they will be operationalized to make the worksite safe, will be referred to you and/or your committee for input. It may mean developing an ECP and conducting a risk assessment, including mapping out the worksite.
Your union will continue to be here to support you through this time. We have OHS Staff Representatives that are assigned to each sector to assist you and we are going to be making short interim training sessions available by video conference.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email those directly to OHS@BCGEU.CA.
Thank you again for being the workplace leader on OHS issue during this important time in our history.
Please click here to download formal letter from Stephanie Smith
May 15, 2020
Component 1 Update: May 15, 2020
Corrections' New Normal
The government introduced BC's Restart Plan last week but we can expect the safeguards to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 that have been put in place in B.C.'s corrections centres to remain for the foreseeable future. We may see an effort by the employer to expand visits and programs, but your union will ensure that any movement in that direction will proceed safely.
Sheriff Risk Assessment
In contrast to the forecast for corrections, dramatic changes in the worksite will be happening for sheriffs as the courthouses reopen. To ensure that happens safely your union began working with the employer on a risk assessment this week. The assessment will cover workplace changes for sheriffs in the weeks and months to come. Local 104 member at large Rick Holzapfel, l;ocal 103 member at large and component 1 executive (sheriffs) member Dave Iorizzo will be representing your union in the risk assessment. Local 104 chair Brandon Cox and BCGEU staff representative Brian Campbell will also be available as resources. Dave Iorizzo will oversee this provincially and will report to me directly.
Force Options Training – Exposure Control Plan
Last week Force Options Training (FOT) was completed at OCC as a pilot project under an Exposure Control Plan (ECP), which was largely based on a provincial risk assessment developed through the hard work of local 104 chair Brandon Cox, local 105 chair Krissie Hayes, and BCGEU staff representative Brian Campbell. local 107 chair Scott Cudney attended the training at OCC on behalf of component 1. The ECP was adjusted by the employer following the pilot project at OCC. FOT started on Wednesday at SPSC and FRCC. Local 104 chair Brandon Cox and Local 104 JOHS co-chair Kyle McLellan are participating in observer and consultative roles on behalf of the BCGEU.
FOT will begin at VIRCC and KRCC the week of May 25, 2020. I will attend these sessions on behalf of the union along with Local 105 chair Krissie Hayes. We will keep you updated as we receive notice of FOT for the remainder of the jails.
Pandemic Pay Premium
The BCGEU is continuing to push for a pandemic pay premium for all essential workers in B.C. President Stephanie Smith has spoken directly with government officials, including Finance Minister Carole James about this pressing issue. Thus far we have received no further information from government, but are hoping for an announcement soon. This is a critical issue for the BCGEU and we will continue to pursue it.
Correctional officers and sheriffs are recognized as first responders in B.C. and work in the same dangerous and close environments as frontline healthcare workers. And, for the same reasons some healthcare workers are receiving additional pay for their selfless efforts on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, so too should correctional officers and sheriffs. The BCGEU will continue to fight for this recognition.
Victoria Day Long Weekend
Thank you to all component 1 members who work hard each day to ensure the safety of all British Columbians! I know you put your safety at risk every day preventing and responding to emergencies of all types. Hopefully all of you have an opportunity to enjoy some part of the Victoria Day long weekend – at a safe social distance of course - and hopefully we get some sunshine.
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice-President
May 11, 2020
On April 24th we updated you about the efforts we have been making with respect to ensuring that you are safe while you are at work and also ensuring that you are fairly compensated for the important work you do each and every day in the community social services (CSS) sector. We know that you provide care and support to some of the most vulnerable members of society in British Columbia and the COVID-19 pandemic has made that work even more challenging. We described our efforts to date in our bulletin which can be accessed here.
On May 8, on behalf of the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA), we demanded that the provincial government and all of the various funding agencies that provide monies to CSS agencies address these inequities in pay and benefits. In our letter to Finance Minister Carole James, we asked for CSS workers to be treated the same as their counterparts in the health and other sectors by being provided with additional pay, fully funded sick leave, additional meal allowances, clothing/laundry allowances, and/or coverage for additional pandemic-related expenses for workers. See that letter here.
As stated in that letter, "Our expectation is simple. CSS workers should receive the same treatment as other workers in other sectors with the provision of comparable pay and benefits to address the unique demands and challenges of working during this pandemic."
The BCGEU will continue to lobby and advocate on your behalf with government and stakeholders in the CSS sector to ensure your contribution during this time is recognized and respected.
Please ensure that you are checking the BCGEU website www.bcgeu.ca and, in particular, the COVID-19 hub and the CSS-specific microsite for information directly related to workers in the CSS sector. If you have questions directly related to occupational health and safety, contact your OHS representative or steward, or email email@example.com. If you have other general COVID-related questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrea Duncan, Comp. 3 Vice-President
May 11, 2020
Many of you have been asking for applications for the Pandemic Relief Fund we announced last week.
We were working out the details and had hoped to have the applications out this week however last Friday, May 8, 2020 the HSA sent a notice to their members putting the PRF on hold pending the announcement by the Federal government regarding additional funding. It is problematic that, as the second largest union in the HSPBA, we were not consulted, nor informed about this announcement to HSA members.
We are working hard to provide fund details and application process within a week.
Staff Representative, Negotiations
Download PDF of notice here
May 08, 2020
Component 1 Update: May 8, 2020
Provincial Officer Safety (COVID-19) Risk Assessment
We are pleased that the Adult Custody Division (ACD) has adopted most of the recommendations in the Provincial Officer Safety (COVID-19) Risk Assessment (completed by local 104 chair Brandon Cox, local 105 chair Krissie Hayes and BCGEU staff representative Brian Campbell). However, the ACD has failed to implement some key recommendations: including the installation of plexiglas barriers at officer workstations, and limiting the number of inmates officers have to travel with in elevators. These are key concerns for us and we have begun addressing them with WorkSafeBC. Barring a resolution at that level, we will be pursuing these issues with the Minister directly.
Provincial SO Force Options Training Risk Assessment – Exposure Control Plan
Despite the fact that we did not agree with terms of the Provincial Force Options Training Risk Assessment, the ACD implemented its own Exposure Control Plan for security officer training at Okanagan Correctional Centre this week. We have maintained some oversight over that training, but feel that a number of items need to be added to the ACD's Exposure Control Plan, including:
- Whenever possible, force options training should occur outdoors.
- ERT members, not recruits, should play the roles of inmates or second staff.
- The same training partners should work together for the duration of the training day.
- Union safety representatives appointed by local chairs should have a consultative role in training.
The BCGEU is continuing its fight for a pandemic premium for all essential frontline workers in recognition of their selfless efforts during these difficult times. So far we have not succeeded in this fight, but we will continue to pursue it at all levels, until you receive the fair compensation to which you are entitled.
As first responders, corrections officers and sheriffs work in the same kind of close and dangerous environments as healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, for the same reasons that frontline healthcare workers such as nurses are receiving a premium for their brave response to the COVID-19 pandemic, so too should corrections officers and sheriffs be fairly compensated for their unwavering willingness to go into work each day and expose themselves, and their families, to the same dangers. Corrections officers and sheriffs are both entitled to receive a pandemic response premium, and the BCGEU will continue to fight for this principle.
The BCGEU recommends that members file WorkSafeBC claims if they believe they were exposed to COVID-19 at work, are awaiting COVID-19 test results, or were infected with COVID-19 at work. Please be aware WorkSafeBC holds incoming COVID-19 claims for 14 days, or until a worker becomes ill, before adjudicating them.
The BCGEU has ordered cloth masks for Component 1 members. We understand your concerns and we stand in solidarity. The masks will be sent to the jails and court houses for distribution.
Fraser Regional Correctional Center members
Dean Purdy's Message to Members
Please click here to see Dean's message to members
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice President
May 07, 2020
Layoff notices – COVID-19 update, May 7
As you know, your employer has determined that they will begin doing layoffs shortly. Please be assured that our union is working with your employer to negotiate the terms of these layoffs, and we will get the best deal possible in these very difficult circumstances. Though negotiations are ongoing, lay-off notices will likely be going out before a finalized deal is struck. The parties will communicate out any details as soon as they are available.
We know this is a very stressful time for everyone at Protrans, especially those who may be directly impacted by the layoffs. Your shop stewards are working diligently to ensure that your concerns and questions are addressed through this time, and to ensure that our union achieves the best results possible in our labour adjustment consultation. Please continue to reach out to your stewards through this process.
May 07, 2020
Restarting B.C. -- your rights and union news
Yesterday B.C. was full of cautious anticipation as Premier Horgan announced the steps we'll be taking to restart the province safely.
Throughout the past two months, many BCGEU members have been on the front lines of the pandemic, limiting the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, countless others have been providing vital public services that keep our province's day-to-day work rolling along and protect many of our most vulnerable neighbours. Other BCGEU members have faced layoffs as their employers shut down to protect our communities.
Thank you for your important work and sacrifice. Without all of us pulling together, the impacts of COVID-19 on our province's public health over the last two months would have been far greater.
The premier's briefing touched on a number of sectors of our economy, but in most cases, details specific to where you work were not provided. We're currently analyzing additional documentation that was provided separately, and over the coming days and weeks we'll be working with employers to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to protect workers.
BCGEU members and staff have been extraordinarily creative in finding ways to conduct our day-to-day work administering your union and protecting our rights at work while not being physically present. However, we all know the value of in-person communication and cooperation.
So, as the province restarts, we too will be turning our minds to how your union can return to normal operations as much as possible while doing our part to socially distance and prevent the unnecessary spread of COVID-19. We are aware of the impacts that the ban on large-scale gatherings could have on large membership gatherings – including meetings, activist banquets, and our convention in 2021 – and we will be seeking more details on that matter.
Your union will keep members updated as more details become available, so please keep an eye on your email inbox.
An essential part of keeping the spread of COVID-19 low is protecting the rights of all workers, so we will continue to press for legislation ensuring all workers' right to paid sick time and effective occupational health and safety policies with regard to infectious disease. Ensuring that nobody has to choose between their health and a paycheque will keep all of us safer.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 in your workplace, please:
- Visit our COVID-19 Information Hub: bcgeu.ca/covid or
- contact us at email@example.com – our dedicated inbox for COVID-19
May 05, 2020
New Voluntary Process - COVID Screening for Symptomatic Employees
If you call in with COVID-19 symptoms or report them when you arrive at work, the Employer will offer you an opportunity to participate in a new COVID-19 screening process developed by the Government's Occupational Health and Rehabilitation group. Please note, this process is voluntary. If you choose not to participate you will be directed to 811 for testing and advice.