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.
April 30, 2020
Following communications in March from SNC-Lavalin asking you and our union to agree to a reduction in pay for Protrans workers, we would like to let you know the matter has been resolved.
On Thursday March 26, 2020, members of the Bargaining Unit received a communication from the CEO of SNC-Lavalin asking employees to take a voluntary reduction in pay of between 10 and 20%. This was an outrageous ask from a massive corporation at a time when you are all providing a vital service in a challenging environment. Our union pressed for an explanation from the employer – they clarified the communication was not intended for unionized employees and agreed to send out a retraction the following day.
The next day the employer asked the union for a reduction of your pay by between 10 and 20%. While other industries were giving their employees pay bumps for having to work in dangerous conditions, SNC-Lavalin was asking their employees to take significant pay cuts. Our union responded unequivocally "no". The following day a communication was sent to bargaining unit members by SNC-Lavalin, again asking employees to take a 10 to 20% pay cut. This communication stated that for unionized employees the employer was working with the union to achieve the employer's goals. We want to make clear that our union has never worked with the employer to achieve cuts in your pay.
Because of the communications by the employer the union filed an 'Unfair Labour Practice' complaint to the Labour Relations Board on March 31st, 2020 and as noted, the matter has now been resolved. With the Labour Board's assistance, the employer has agreed in writing that communications that relate to reductions in pay or benefits that are sent out to Canadian employees by SNC-Lavalin will not be sent to bargaining unit members.
In the event that SNC-Lavalin sends out communications to all employees internationally the communications will contain a clear provision that states that any references to reductions in pay or benefits are not intended for unionized employees. If any communications like that are sent out the employer must also send out a communication to bargaining unit members directing them to ignore any references to reductions in pay or benefits.
April 30, 2020
COVID-19 pay allowance application and instructions
As noted in the bulletin on Monday (see bulletin here), there is a fund for Health Sciences Professionals (HSPs) to pay for a COVID-19 pay allowance equivalent to $4 per straight time hour worked to a maximum of $300 per pay period for frontline workers who are most directly impacted by COVID-19 due to their job.
The previous bulletin included a list of professions but it is important to note that list has no bearing on eligibility for the allowance and was communicated in the interest of transparency because it reflects the language of the agreement.
The eligibility criteria for the allowance are as follows:
A) HSPs who work in direct patient care and who are not able to social
distance (6 feet away) from patients for 100% of their time worked or;
B) HSPs who work with material or samples that may be infectious and
where exposure to novel coronavirus may occur (i.e. laboratories).
It is important to understand how that criteria applies to your job. For instance, HSPs who can socially distance at all times in all circumstances during their work would not be eligible under category A; however, HSPs who cannot socially distance 100% of the time-no matter how infrequent the exceptions-would be eligible. And category B is intended to cover HSPs who work with biomaterials, not just those who work with equipment.
The application will require you to submit pay stubs that cover the entirety of the eligibility period of April 1 to 30th inclusive. In other words, you will not be able to complete and submit an application until you have your pay stub for April 30th in hand. For most HSPs, this will be May 8th at the earliest.
The application form is being developed and, once finalized will be sent out to all BCGEU HSP members.
Any questions about eligibility or application can be directed to the COVID-19 hotline at firstname.lastname@example.org
April 27, 2020
Thank you for all that you are doing to keep your community and all of B.C. going through this extraordinary time.
Your union is here for you. We are in communication with your employers and advocating for your rights and best interests as operations change due to the pandemic. We understand some of you are uncertain about the future of your employment and we want to assure you that we will ensure your employers adhere to the language and rights of your collective agreements.
As you navigate physical distancing and PPE at work, layoffs and recalls, working from home and adjusting workloads, and anything else, be sure to reach out to your bargaining chair, a steward, your local executive or the component executive.
Your union’s COVID-19 online information hub is also an excellent resource. Visit bcgeu.ca/covid for guidance and information regarding your pension, your occupational health and safety rights, income replacement benefits, childcare needs for essential service workers, etc. Our COVID-19 FAQ page covers a range of common topics as well.
Cindy Battersby, Component 7 Vice President
April 27, 2020
HSPBA negotiates $5mn allowance fund for health science professionals
Health science professionals on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia will be paid a daily allowance on top of straight time earnings retroactive to April 1 under an agreement negotiated by the Health Sciences Professional Bargaining Association (HSPBA) with the Ministry of Health.
"Our members on the frontlines of patient care are crucial to B.C.'s fight against COVID-19 and they are bearing an enormous burden of stress, uncertainty and risk in their work right now that is affecting every aspect of their lives outside of work. I am so glad we were able to negotiate this allowance to give them some well-deserved support and acknowledgement as they lead us through this unprecedented time," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU.
Health science professionals on the health care team eligible to apply for the allowance include but are not limited to:
- respiratory therapists making sure patients have all the interventions and supports they need to survive a serious respiratory illness
- laboratory technologists and medical imaging technologists performing diagnostic tests
- dietitians, speech language pathologists, and physiotherapists critical to recovery
- biomedical engineering technologist who are critical to the maintenance of life sustaining medical equipment
- social workers supporting patients and their families
- licensing and public health inspectors
The fund was created to supplement straight time earnings by $4 an hour for the month of April. It applies to health science professionals who work in direct patient care and who are not able to be physically distanced from patients at work, or who work with material or samples that may be infectious. The $5mn fund will be administered by the affected unions.
Details on how HSPBA members apply to the fund will be announced shortly.
April 24, 2020
Recognition for community health workers – COVID-19 update
BCGEU members working in Community Health (CBA - Component 8) heard that the Nurses Bargaining Association had successfully negotiated a 'blanket premium' based on current language in their collective agreement with HEABC. The Community Bargaining Association (CBA), in which the BCGEU is the lead union, immediately reached out to HEABC and asked for similar consideration for community health workers. (Read the letter here.)
At this time the CBA has had no response from HEABC despite repeated attempts to follow up on our initial request. However, we have since learned that healthcare workers in the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) are also receiving additional monies.
Upon learning of these additional monies, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith reached out directly to The Honorable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, to express her concern that this approach to doling out additional monies leaves out and devalues thousands of frontline healthcare workers and creates divisions in a sector that is on the frontline of our province's pandemic response. (Read the letter here.)
"From the beginning of the Coronavirus public health crisis through the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond healthcare workers have been on the frontlines of this unprecedented crisis and their work has been essential to our province's success to date in flattening the curve," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. "The HEABC's patchwork approach to additional funding is disrespectful, divisive, and totally unacceptable."
Your union shares your frustrations you may have that this recognition has not been extended to you and your coworkers. That frustration was clearly expressed to the Minister.
"Solidarity is fundamental to the BCGEU and teamwork is fundamental to the healthcare system that thousands of our members work in," said Smith. "To single out some workers for recognition while ignoring those who work alongside them and experience the same risks and stresses is inexcusable."
Your union understands the extraordinary pressures you are facing and the Herculean efforts you make every day to slow the spread of COVID-19 amongst an incredibly vulnerable population. We believe you deserve equal recognition – and we will make sure the Minister hears that message.
April 24, 2020
After weeks of strong advocacy by your union-including component VP, Dean Purdy as well as representatives of OH&S committees, Locals and our reps in the joint Provincial Officer Safety Risk Assessment (Local 104 Chair Brandon Cox, Local 105 Chair Krissie Hayes &BCGEU OH&S Staff Rep Brian Campbell)-we are glad to announce that the Adult Custody Division (ACD) has changed its position regarding the precautionary use of masks in all Provincial Correctional Centres.
"We have been calling on the Corrections Branch to allow Officers the option to wear masks since the pandemic began in order to protect Officers and prevent the spread of the virus inside our jails" said Purdy.
As in all worksites and on the direction of the PHO you are not required to wear masks when you can maintain social distancing. This has been the direction from the beginning.
For more information on the BCGEU's position on the precautionary use of masks please see:
For more information on the use of masks in the workplace please see the Officer Safety Risk assessment at:
April 24, 2020
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE WHO WORK FOR LIFELABS
We are writing as a follow up to our April 15th bulletin and to announce an opportunity for you to bring your voice to our strategies to address the issues workers at Lifelabs are experiencing.
We have heard from those that work at Lifelabs about a variety of issues, including: the availability and use of effective PPE, making the work safe during this pandemic, the temporary closures of PSCs and the reduction in work for the MLS, and the call for some sort of incentive or danger pay during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We have put out bulletins on the use of PPE and how to address unsafe work practices. Those bulletins can be found on our Covid-19 micro site at: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid
Some of our pertinent bulletins on this include:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for BCGEU members: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/bcgeu/pages/11629/attachments/original/1587481138/Personal_Protective_Equipment_%28PPE%29__Guidance_for_BCGEU_members_interacting_with_the_public_during_COVID-19.pdf?1587481138
Your right to refuse unsafe work: https://www.bcgeu.ca/your_right_to_refuse_unsafe_work
Covid-19 update for Lifelabs members: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid-19_update_for_lifelabs_members
We are committed to providing you with the most up to date information, working to address your issues at the worksite and ensuring your rights are protected.
No one knows the issues at the worksite as well as you, the workers, do. You know the day-to-day impacts of the various issues and we have relied on you to tell us about those details, along with your ideas on how to address them. We need your involvement on educating us on the issues and working with us to address them. We are in this together.
With that in mind, we are creating a Lifelabs Covid-19 Action Committee. We are inviting you to be part of this committee. This committee will meet by video conference regularly. We will provide paid leaves from work for participation in the committee where practical. We would like to have representatives on this committee from every Lifelabs worksite. The committee will also include the BCGEU's negotiator for your next collective agreement. We want to be prepared for the next round of bargaining and will be asking this committee to help with that as well.
If you wish to be part of the Lifelabs Covid-19 Action Committee, please fill out the short form found on this link: https://www.bcgeu.ca/join_lifelabs_action. We plan to have the committee meet in the very near future, so if you are interested in being part of this important committee, please let us know without delay.
Our members provide a critical and importance service to all British Columbians and the important and dedicated work you do must be respected.
Vice President, Health Services Component
Download FYI re covid committee 20200424.pdf
April 24, 2020
We are writing with important information about the Provincial Health Officer's Single Site Order for health care worksites, which should be fully implemented in the next two weeks.
The Order applies to: Long Term Care, Assisted Living, and Provincial Mental Health Facilities. If you work at more than one of these types of facilities, you will be restricted to working at only one of your worksites. That is, the order will prevent you from working at more than one Long Term Care, Assisted Living or Provincial Mental Health Facility.
The Order does not apply to: worksites other than the ones listed. If you work at a worksite that is not Long Term Care, Assisted Living, or a Provincial Mental Health Facility, your employer should not be restricting where you work, and you have no obligation to disclose your other work sites to your employer.
The Order also does not apply to the following classifications: dieticians, medical laboratory technologists, medical laboratory assistants, nurse practitioners, paramedics, pharmacists, physicians, resident physicians, speech language pathologists, inter-facility transport staff, delivery persons, trades people, regular and biochemical waste removal people, and biomedical engineers.
The Health Authorities are currently creating lists of single site assignments for employees affected by the single site orders. For BCGEU members, we have a short window of opportunity to review these lists before they become finalized. We will be attempting to address any issues that affect our members before the lists are finalized. There will also be opportunities to address issues after the lists are in place.
Many of you will be assigned to remain at BCGEU sites. Some of you will likely be assigned to work exclusively at sites represented by other unions, while still others of you will be assigned to non-union sites.
If you are being assigned to a non-union site, we want to make sure we can keep in touch with you, so we can represent you in any disputes that arise from the single site order. Please update your contact information using the following link:
We are aware that this situation can be stressful and confusing and we will continue to work diligently on helping you through it.
April 24, 2020
We continue to receive information that public areas of some essential service workplaces still lack proper protection for workers.
BCGEU members have reported concerns about possible exposure to COVID-19 in front offices and lobbies. If this is the case in your workplace, please report it to MCFD at this email address: SHRMCFD@gov.bc.ca. This is the centralized email address the ministry has developed to allow employees to forward whatever health and safety concerns they may have for management's consideration.
Where there are concerns about public areas, the most important thing you can do right now is report this directly to the employer using the email address above. We also want to be aware of these issues, however, so please copy us on your message using the address: Health@bcgeu.ca.
Your union continues to work directly with the ministry on COVID matters as they develop.
Maria Middlemiss, BCGEU VP component 12
Judy Fox-McGuire, BCGEU VP component 6