Info on Covid-19, click for more information

COVID-19 Information for Public Service members

A number of members have inquired about working from home as a precautionary measure. There has not been an overall decision made at this point, so we recommend that members who are interested should raise it with their supervisor to determine if working from home or other options to reduce exposure are potentially available.  
 
We are still engaged in conversations to ensure that all employees are supported and able to avoid spreading COVID-19 without facing financial hardship.

GENERAL INFORMATION

COVID-19 information and FAQs for BCGEU members working in the public service 

BCGEU requests COVID-19 memorandum for members working in public service

B.C. Public Service Agency risk identification and procedures

FAQ - if you believe you have COVID-19

Cheat sheet: Your employer’s duty to accommodate during COVID-19

 

INFORMATION BY MINISTRY & COMPONENT                                            

Component 1 Corrections and Sheriff Services: 

First confirmed case of COVID-19 at correctional facility 

Component information concerning COVID-19

Component 5 Retail, Stores and Warehouse:

Workplace safety measures 

Rights to sick pay and COVID-related absences

Recycling suspended at BC Liquor Stores

Component 6 Social, Information and Health:

Concerns regarding public spaces for members working for MCFD

Workstation set-up and home ergonomic tips when working from home for members working for MCFD

Right to refuse unsafe work checklist for MCFD supervisors

FAQ for members working for MCFD

Information regarding staffing working for MSDPR

Component 12 Administrative Services:

Concerns regarding public spaces for members working for MCFD

Workstation set-up and home ergonomic tips when working from home for members working for MCFD

FAQ for members working for MCFD

Information regarding staffing working for MSDPR

Component 20 Environmental, Technical and Operational:

Hours of work for those working from home

 

Read the latest bulletin (Mar 2020)

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Have a COVID-related question?

Email health@bcgeu.ca – Responses are confidential. To help us answer your question quickly, please tell us your employer and city of work.

COVID-19 resources & information for Public Service Members

Last week, your union sent out a bulletin (read it here) about discussions that we’ve held with the Public Service Agency (PSA) about how COVID-19 will be handled at work. As a result of our ongoing discussions with the PSA, they have issued updated versions of the two documents we shared last week:

Mar 23

BC Public Service COVID-19 Response Overview & FAQ

We have been working with the BC Public Service Agency to share documentation on workplace policies and procedures relating to COVID-19. For the latest versions of their FAQ and Response Overview, please visit the PSA’s website.

BCGEU COVID-19 Resources:

COVID-19 News for Public Service Members

October 20, 2020

All Local Officers, Stewards, OHS Reps, Art 29 Members - Employer Mandated Re...

You are receiving this as a BCGEU local executive, steward, Article 29 Union/Management Committee member or Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) activist working in the B.C. Public Service.

 
Our union continues to monitor the process around your return to working in the office, as announced by your employer last week and outlined in the BC Public Service COVID-19 Response FAQs published here. As a member activist, your help is needed to monitor your employer's plan and support fellow members to ensure all relevant health and safety laws are followed and enforced. 


It is important that BCGEU members know the following:

  • The decision to return employees to worksites is at the sole discretion of the employer. Some media reports have incorrectly reported that the BCGEU "approved" this plan. This is not correct, and we have requested that the media correct this. The Head of the Public Service, Deputy Minister to the Premier Don Wright, briefed us on these plans. The BCGEU has no legal ability to stop these plans in our collective agreement. These are government decisions, and our role is to represent your interests through the framework of the collective agreement and relevant health and safety laws.
  • It is our union's understanding that government is planning a graduated return to the office.
  • Some members may have needs to be accommodated as the result of individual or family circumstances. These accommodation requests by members should go through you to your Ministry and the BCGEU. 
  • Existing evidence strongly suggests that masks are important and protect both the wearer and others. Members are encouraged to wear masks whenever possible. If you or fellow members have not received a BCGEU mask, please request one here.

As members prepare to return to your worksite, please advise them to consider the following to protect the health and safety of themselves, their family, fellow members and the public:


Review in full the employer's COVID-19 Safety Plan and any new protocols. At a minimum, COVID-19 Safety Plans should include the following to meet government and WorkSafeBC requirements:

  • Measures to allow workers to maintain a physical distance of least two metres between one another and between clients/customers
  • Policies to ensure that workers or clients (where possible) that are ill or required to self-isolate are not allowed in the workplace
  • Enhanced workplace cleaning, especially high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces like light switches and doorknobs
  • Easy access to facilities and adequate time for workers to wash their hands frequently
  • Allow reasonable time to follow new protocols
  • Consideration of allowing workers to work remotely where possible
  • "Engineering controls" – like plexi-glass barriers or other changes to the physical workspace to facilitate physical distancing, and to separate workers and/or clients where distancing is not possible
  • "Administrative controls" – like rotating or staggered schedules, restrictions on the number clients, or sharing documents electronically to facilitate physical distancing and reduce contact with potentially contaminated surfaces
  • Where physical distancing is not possible, provision for appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, eye protection, gloves and/or gowns
  • Updated protocols for Occupational First Aid Attendants (OFAAs)
  • A training plan for all staff on the Safety Plan and the measures identified in the Safety Plan

Understand that, in addition to having a safety plan, your employer should:

  • Develop the safety plan in consultation with workers and your workplace's Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) committee or worker representatives;
  • Make the safety plan readily available to workers;
  • Ensure workers are trained and know how to keep themselves safe, including use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if required;
  • Ensure supervisors are trained;
  • Ensure supervisors are monitoring the workplace to confirm policies and procedures are being followed.

Ensure your questions and concerns are answered by your employer to your satisfaction. If they are not, or if the above things are not being done in your workplace:
Exercise your right and responsibility to immediately notify the following people:

  • your supervisor; and
  • your Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) representatives (either your local BCGEU area office, or our union's OHS department).

Consider invoking your right to refuse unsafe work.


In addition 
to health and safety issues, our joint labour management committees provide a useful forum to discuss ministry-specific plans. Your worksite's Article 29 committee representatives are available to raise your issues with your ministry's management representatives. We have a committee established in each ministry so please direct your issues and questions to your BCGEU committee reps.

We know these are difficult times for many BCGEU members. Please be assured that, as your bargaining committee, we are committed to representing your interests to get through this pandemic.

In solidarity, 


BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee
Stephanie Smith, President
Paul Finch, Treasurer
Kari Michaels, Executive Vice President
Dean Purdy, Component 1 Vice President
Kusam Doal, Component 5 Vice President
Judy Fox-McGuire, Component 6 Vice President
Cynthia Mepham-Egli, Component 6 Second Vice Chairperson
Maria Middlemiss, Component 12 Vice President
Matt Damario, Component 12 First Vice Chairperson
Robert Davis, Component 20 Vice President
Doug Dykens, Director - Field Services & Negotiations
Mike Eso, Secretary
Lisa Lane, Support Staff

UWU/MoveUP

October 19, 2020

Concerns with employer-mandated return to office: BCGEU public service member...

You are receiving this as a BCGEU local executive, steward, Article 29 Union/Management Committee member or Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) activist working in the B.C. Public Service.

Our union continues to monitor the process around your return to working in the office, as announced by your employer last week and outlined in the BC Public Service COVID-19 Response FAQs published here. As a member activist, your help is needed to monitor your employer’s plan and support fellow members to ensure all relevant health and safety laws are followed and enforced.

It is important that BCGEU members know the following:

  • The decision to return employees to worksites is at the sole discretion of the employer. Some media reports have incorrectly reported that the BCGEU "approved" this plan. This is not correct, and we have requested that the media correct this. The Head of the Public Service, Deputy Minister to the Premier Don Wright, briefed us on these plans. The BCGEU has no legal ability to stop these plans in our collective agreement. These are government decisions, and our role is to represent your interests through the framework of the collective agreement and relevant health and safety laws.
  • It is our union’s understanding that government is planning a graduated return to the office.
  • Some members may have needs to be accommodated as the result of individual or family circumstances. These accommodation requests by members should go through you to your Ministry and the BCGEU.
  • Existing evidence strongly suggests that masks are important and protect both the wearer and others. Members are encouraged to wear masks whenever possible. If you or fellow members have not received a BCGEU mask, please request one here.

As members prepare to return to your worksite, please advise them to consider the following to protect the health and safety of themselves, their family, fellow members and the public:

Review in full the employer’s COVID-19 Safety Plan and any new protocols. At a minimum, COVID-19 Safety Plans should include the following to meet government and WorkSafeBC requirements:

  • Measures to allow workers to maintain a physical distance of least two metres between one another and between clients/customers
  • Policies to ensure that workers or clients (where possible) that are ill or required to self-isolate are not allowed in the workplace
  • Enhanced workplace cleaning, especially high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces like light switches and doorknobs
  • Easy access to facilities and adequate time for workers to wash their hands frequently
  • Allow reasonable time to follow new protocols
  • Consideration of allowing workers to work remotely where possible
  • “Engineering controls” – like plexi-glass barriers or other changes to the physical workspace to facilitate physical distancing, and to separate workers and/or clients where distancing is not possible
  • “Administrative controls” – like rotating or staggered schedules, restrictions on the number clients, or sharing documents electronically to facilitate physical distancing and reduce contact with potentially contaminated surfaces
  • Where physical distancing is not possible, provision for appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, eye protection, gloves and/or gowns
  • Updated protocols for Occupational First Aid Attendants (OFAAs)
  • A training plan for all staff on the Safety Plan and the measures identified in the Safety Plan

Understand that, in addition to having a safety plan, your employer should:

  • Develop the safety plan in consultation with workers and your workplace’s Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) committee or worker representatives;
  • Make the safety plan readily available to workers;
  • Ensure workers are trained and know how to keep themselves safe, including use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if required;
  • Ensure supervisors are trained;
  • Ensure supervisors are monitoring the workplace to confirm policies and procedures are being followed.

Ensure your questions and concerns are answered by your employer to your satisfaction. If they are not, or if the above things are not being done in your workplace:

Exercise your right and responsibility to immediately notify the following people:

  • your supervisor; and
  • your Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) representatives (either your local BCGEU area office, or our union’s OHS department).

Consider invoking your right to refuse unsafe work.

In addition to health and safety issues, our joint labour management committees provide a useful forum to discuss ministry-specific plans. Your worksite’s Article 29 committee representatives are available to raise your issues with your ministry’s management representatives. We have a committee established in each ministry so please direct your issues and questions to your BCGEU committee reps.

We know these are difficult times for many BCGEU members. Please be assured that, as your bargaining committee, we are committed to representing your interests to get through this pandemic.

In solidarity,
 
BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee
Stephanie Smith, President
Paul Finch, Treasurer
Kari Michaels, Executive Vice President
Dean Purdy, Component 1 Vice President
Kusam Doal, Component 5 Vice President
Judy Fox-McGuire, Component 6 Vice President
Cynthia Mepham-Egli, Component 6 Second Vice Chairperson
Maria Middlemiss, Component 12 Vice President
Matt Damario, Component 12 First Vice Chairperson
Robert Davis, Component 20 Vice President
Doug Dykens, Director - Field Services & Negotiations
Mike Eso, Secretary
Lisa Lane, Support Staff

 



UWU/MoveUP

October 15, 2020

Update: Pandemic pay amidst a provincial election - BCGEU

When the provincial government first declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) workers were deemed essential workers. But when the provincial government announced the Temporary Pandemic Pay program (TPP) in May, we were unfairly excluded from the vital support and recognition that the program was designed to offer. 

We came together like never before to push for change; launching a petition and a letter-writing campaign targeting MLAs. Of the 5,700 people who signed the petition, 40 percent are Component 5 members and 97 percent are active BCGEU members. And of the 2,100 letters sent to MLAs asking for pandemic pay for frontline workers (including BCLDB workers), 35 percent were from the public.

As we worked in solidarity, our union backed our efforts by writing a letter directly to B.C.'s Minister of Finance, making a call to the provincial government, and using the media (CBC, Vancouver Is Awesome, CKNW and CFAX) to pressure government to change their minds. 

We have been advocating for months for BCLDB workers to be included in the TPP, and we've done it smartly. Our efforts initially focused on the provincial government as sole decision-maker for the program. When the government declined to make the changes we were asking for but publicly encouraged "all businesses who've seen an increase in revenue to ensure that their workers are being properly compensated at this difficult time," we assessed the BCLDB's higher-than-usual revenue during the pandemic and redirected pressure to our employer – with this letter.

Disappointingly, our employer also declined. And now we're in an election campaign, which means our government currently lacks the authority to make the changes we want.

So it is time to once again redirect our efforts towards building internal capacity so that, as soon as the next provincial government is sworn in, we are energized, focused and ready to renew our push for the government and our employer to properly recognize BCLDB workers.

Let's talk and build a new plan. What do YOU think we can accomplish together? What ideas do you have to solve our collective challenges? Fellow members of our union component will be reaching out to you in the next few weeks to discuss how you're feeling about pandemic pay, the election, and any other issues challenging you, and what each of us can do about them. Please use this form to update your contact information so we can reach out.

I'd also like to invite you to a Candidates' Forum that the BCGEU is holding this Friday, October 16. I will be asking the BC NDP, BC Liberal and BC Green candidates about their support for pandemic pay directly. Join the event here at 5:00 pm: https://www.facebook.com/events/342589333631879

In solidarity,

Kusam Doal, Vice President of Component 5 (Retail Stores and Warehouses)



UWU/MoveUP

October 08, 2020

All BCGEU public service members Re: Return to in-office work - BCGEU

This morning, your employer announced their intention to move towards having all employees who have been working remotely during the pandemic to return to working in the office on at least a part-time basis. You can view the plan, as per the latest BC Public Service COVID-19 Response FAQs, here.

I want you to know that our union is aware of the plan, that we are communicating with your employer and that your safety is our top priority.

What we know right now is that the plan to return to in-office work will happen on a ministry-by-ministry basis – there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Further, your employer plans to operate with reduced in-office capacity and modified duties for the next six to 18 months. 

I have asked each ministry's Article 29 committee to monitor the implementation of the plan, address issues as they arise, and report any concerns to me. If you have concerns about how the plan is being implemented in your worksite and your manager can't resolve your concern, please contact your steward or your OHS representative.

We will continue to keep you updated on this issue as the situation unfolds.

In solidarity, 

Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President and Chair of the Public Service Bargaining Committee



UWU/MoveUP

October 07, 2020

BCGEU members covered by PSA agreements - Payment of Temporary Pandemic Pay ...

Your union has confirmed updated information about the Temporary Pandemic Pay (TPP) program with your employer.
 
In a shift from what was originally announced, the TPP will now be applied to all overtime hours worked by eligible employees in addition to regular hours worked. Since this change to program parameters requires additional calculations your employer will be disbursing TPP stipends in two installments in order to avoid further delays to payment. The first installment, due in October, will cover regular hours worked and the second installment will cover overtime hours.
 
It is our understanding from your employer that eligible employees who worked only regular hours will receive their entire payment by the end of October 2020. Employees who worked overtime hours will receive the TPP for regular hours by the end of October and will receive the TPP for overtime hours at a later date. Your employer has not yet set a date for the payment of TPP on OT hours. We will continue to push your employer for confirmation of that date and will be in contact with you as soon as we have updated information.
 
Attached to this bulletin for your information is a letter to your union from Don Wright, Head of the Public Service. Mr. Wright's letter acknowledges the BCGEU's work to push for resolution of the delay in processing the TPP. Mr. Wright also acknowledges that his team "should have done better" and apologizes for the impact the delay has had on BCGEU members. While this letter does not make up for the delay, we felt it was important that you see your employer's words for yourself.



UWU/MoveUP

July 10, 2020

Update: BCGEU requests pandemic pay for LDB workers - BCGEU

I'm writing to update you on our response to the B.C. government's exclusion of workers at the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) from the temporary pandemic pay program, the 16-week federal-provincial cost-share program to provide top-up pay for essential workers which ends next week.

On July 9, myself and your union's president, Stephanie Smith, sent a letter to Minister of Finance Carole James asking for an answer to the question:Will LDB workers be included in the pandemic pay program?
 
It was important to send this letter to ensure the government received our message that, because LDB workers were deemed essential by government and have continuously worked on the frontlines throughout the pandemic, incurring increased risk, cost and inconvenience to serve our communities, they deserve to be recognized and fiscally compensated through the temporary pandemic pay program.

In our letter, we also noted that, despite Minister James' encouragement for profitable retail businesses to provide an equivalent temporary wage top-up for their essential workers, the LDB has not done so.

You can read the letter in full here.

We will notify you of any response we receive, and are planning further action, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I encourage you to sign the BCGEU's petitions reiterating our letter's ask: to include LDB workers and all other essential workers in the pandemic pay program:

 
In solidarity, 

Kusam Doal
Vice President, Retail Stores and Warehouse Component (Component 5)



UWU/MoveUP

June 12, 2020

Component 1 (Sheriffs) Update: COVID-19 Risk Assessment & Exposure Control P...

BCGEU and Sheriff Service have signed a provincial risk assessment and exposure control plan ("SSRA") designed to mitigate COVID-19 risks as you return to new normal work conditions at your worksites in the weeks and months ahead.

The SSRA is the product of a constructive joint effort. Many thanks to component 1 executive member at large (Sheriffs) Dave Iorizzo, local 104 member at large Rick Holzapfel, and BCGEU staff representative Brian Campbell, for their many hours of hard work on this project.  

A Fluid Document – please read it

The SSRA was developed following guidance from a range of sources, including: the BC Centre for Disease Control, WorkSafeBC, Occupational Health Programs, Sheriff Service policies and other provincial risk assessments. The SSRA is a fluid document which will be continually reviewed and may be adjusted as updated information becomes available.

All members should receive a copy of the SSRA, and are strongly encouraged to read and become familiar with it.

SSRA highlights

  • Standard precaution

    Work from home options where possible;
    Physical distancing;
    Handwashing;
    Cough and sneeze etiquette; and,
    Staying home when sick.

     
  • Staff to establish appropriate PPE at the beginning of each shift

    At the beginning of the work shift, staff should establish the appropriate level of PPE (non-medical mask versus surgical mask, gloves and eye protection) they may require for the duration of the work shift.

    When determining the appropriate level of PPE for the shift, staff must take into consideration the total daily time they may have potential exposure. Potential daily exposure time is important as potential exposure of more than 15 minutes may require a different type of PPE.

 All PPE will be provided by the Sheriff Service.

  • Different kinds of masks

    Under the SSRA, different masks are to be used in different situations. Members requiring surgical masks should ensure they are obtained from containers indicating they are certified as ASTM Level 1.
     
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols

    The SSRA prescribes significant enhanced cleaning protocols for courtrooms, prisoner transports and prisoner holding areas.


SSRA review by local JOHS committees

The SSRA will be reviewed by all Local JOHS committees and implemented in a manner appropriate for the unique features of each worksite. Please contact your local JOSH committee or supervisor if you have any suggestions about the implementation of the SSRA in your workplace.

Right to refuse unsafe work

While the SSRA is comprehensive and intended to be a mitigate COVID-19 return to work safety hazards, all workers retain the right to refuse unsafe work.

https://www.bcgeu.ca/your_right_to_refuse_unsafe_work

BCGEU masks

BCGEU masks will be distributed to members in the weeks to come. These masks are intended for community use only, not for use in the workplace.  

In solidarity,

Dean Purdy
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice President

 

 



UWU/MoveUP

May 29, 2020

Sign the petition – The BCGEU calls for the inclusion of LDB workers in the p...

On May 19th, the B.C. government released details of a federal-provincial cost-shared pandemic pay program to temporarily top up wages of some essential workers but left out BC Liquor Store, BC Cannabis Store, and Distribution Centre workers who have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic.
 
Essential workers like you, who have faced increased risk, cost and inconvenience to serve your community throughout the pandemic deserve to be recognized. It is time LDB workers were paid for the critical jobs that they do.
 
Although the announcement has come and gone, the fight is not over, please sign the petition calling on the B.C. government to expand the temporary pandemic pay program to include LDB workers.
 
Sign the petition and share widely: https://action.bcgeu.ca



UWU/MoveUP

May 27, 2020

Eligibility for premium pay for BCGEU members in the B.C. public service - BCGEU

Eligibility for premium pay for BCGEU members in the B.C. public service  

We have received messages from our membership asking why they were excluded from the premium pay offering. We are also disappointed more sectors were not included and rest assured, we're continuing to speak to the government about expanding it.
 
We are not able to answer some of the questions we've received because we don't have answers - we did not negotiate this premium.
 
However, we've discussed our concerns with the public service agency, and they're encouraging employees do the following:

  1. For employee questions about eligibility, please contact your employer directly.
  2. For technical program questions from employers and service providers, email your questions to the PSEC Secretariat PSEC@gov.bc.ca

 

 

Your union also asks that you copy your email to health@bcgeu.ca to help us keep track of issues.

Your union is also working on ways that you, your co-workers and the rest of your BCGEU family can make sure government hears your voice on the pandemic pay program. Stay tuned for more on this.

More information from the government can be found at:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/temporary-pandemic-pay



UWU/MoveUP