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May 02, 2016

BC Federation of Labour "Stress in the Workplace" Course

The “Understanding and Preventing Stress in the Workplace” course will be offered at the Castlegar area office on Friday June 3, 2016 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. This course will be facilitated by a BC Federation of Labour Health and Safety Centre facilitator. This course is designed to help identify stressors such as job demands, job control, lack of support, organization styles, bullying and lack of work / life balance. All these factors can cause workplace stress and worker burnout. You will learn how your work on the Joint OHS committee can help the employer to develop prevention strategies to reduce worker stress.

Your employer must pay for you to take at least 8 hours of annual Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) education. You must apply for this training through your employer and the cost of this training is $115 per person. Employer OHS representatives are invited to register but will only be accepted if there is space. The maximum registration is 24. A pre- requisite for this course is the BCGEU 1 day Basic OHS (Labour Code) or 2 Day Basic Government OHS training.

If you have already taken your 8 hours of annual training, the OHS department will consider sponsoring you to take this training. Please indicate your need for this sponsorship when you register through your area office. The area office will then confirm the funding with the OHS department.  

Call the Castlegar area office at 250.365-9979 to register and to provide your leave requirements and dietary restrictions.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to improve your ability to advocate for worker’s health and safety rights and to enable you to reduce worker stress at your worksite – register today! 

If you have any questions, please contact your area office or email [email protected]

Download PDF of notice here.




May 02, 2016

Area 05 Stewards Educational Seminar – Pension Workshop

The Area 05 Cross Component Committee is pleased to invite you for a free education session regarding a Pension Workshop. This educational session will be useful for all BCGEU members who want more information related to Pensions and Pension Plans.

    WHERE: Kamloops Area Office 
                  158 Oriole Road, Kamloops
                  After hours entrance at right rear of building.

    WHEN: Saturday, May 28, 2016
                2 Educational Workshops to choose from:
                10:00 a.m. OR 1:00 p.m.

REGISTER BY emailing Amelia Peterson or Tara Copeland at [email protected] or call 
(250) 372-8223 or toll free at 1-800-667-0054 before Friday, May 20, 2016. Confirm early as this session will fill up quickly and seats are limited!

The Pension Workshop will cover the following:

  • Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution
  • Overview of MPP/PSPP and College plans
  • Government Pension Programs: OAS, CPP, GIS
  • Putting it all together

In solidarity

On behalf of the Area 05 Cross Component Committee

Download PDF of notice here. 


April 28, 2016

Stephanie Smith: Day of Mourning 2016

UPDATE: Day of Mourning photos

Many of you will be attending Day of Mourning events on April 28 in different communities around our province. Some of you will be there to honour and remember your co-workers and family members or to show solidarity and empathy for those who have been affected by the death or injury of a worker. The provincial government will be lowering flags on all provincial government buildings to acknowledge this day.

Sadly, the number of fatalities in our province in 2015 did not decrease.  According to the BC Federation of Labour, the fatalities that occurred in 2015 and were reported by February 2016 are as follows:

  • Motor vehicle accident: ​​​23 deaths
  • Other injury: ​​​​54 deaths
  • Asbestos exposure​​​: 60 deaths
  • Other disease: 45 deaths

The total is a shocking 182 fatalities for 2015. Experience tells us that every one of these deaths could have been prevented. 

There is much work to be done to improve regulatory requirements and enforcement to ensure safe and healthy worksites. The BCGEU, together with the BC Federation of Labour and other unions, continues to lobby government and the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) to increase prevention activities, to write more orders, levy more penalties and to launch more criminal prosecutions against negligent employers.  

Every year the BCGEU and labour councils organize activities in workplaces and communities to commemorate April 28. We encourage you to attend a Day of Mourning event in your community. We also ask you to take a moment on April 28 to remember workers who have lost their lives or have been injured on the job.

​This year the BC Federation of Labour and WorkSafeBC have created a Day of Mourning website.  You will be able to find links and a schedule to this year's events. The website also has a commemorative wall to honour fallen workers. If you are interested in attending an event in your community please visit

Stephanie Smith

President, BCGEU

Click here to download the BCGEU’s Day of Mourning poster for 2016.

April 27, 2016

Speak out against death threats to union leaders in Colombia

We have been alerted through CoDevelopment Canada and our Colombian partner NOMADESC that there has been a new round of death threats against numerous human rights defenders and union leaders. These threats are taking place in the Valle de Cauca region, and originate with the paramilitary group Gaitanistas Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC). This is the latest incident in a recent increase in human rights abuses in Colombia. 

In this case, a series of envelopes containing threatening messages from the AGC were discovered at the Colombian Labour Central (CUT), Solidarity Committee with Political Prisoners (CSPP) and NOMADESC main offices. The messages declare a number of people as military targets, and warn that anyone accompanying them will be gunned down. Please join CoDevelopment Canada in calling on the Colombian government to ensure the safety of the threatened activists and to investigate and dismantle the paramilitary groups operating in Colombia.

Click here for a link to the Urgent Action.


April 27, 2016

BCGEU supports transgender human rights bill

On Wednesday, April 27, 2016 NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert is presenting the Trans Equality Bill to the BC Legislature. This bill will ensure that trans and gender variant British Columbians are explicitly protected under the B.C. Human Rights Code. It is Chandra Herbert’s fourth attempt to introduce the private member’s bill.

April 27, 2016

The BCGEU is proud to endorse the Sanctuary City principles

When refugee applicants come to Canada, there is often an assumption that Canada is a safer place than their home countries. But if you have a precarious migration status or no status at all, and you fear being turned over to the immigration authorities, life here is not safe at all.

Transit, health care, and community based social services workers could all be directed by their employers to demand proof of migration status, and even turn people over to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Sometimes workers are misled into thinking that contacting CBSA is helpful, when in fact it can have irreparable damage to an individual or family. In fact, workers are not obliged to collaborate with the CBSA if they are not presented with a valid warrant.

Sanctuary City Vancouver is part of a growing global movement to provide access to services, based on need, not migration status. The group is spreading the word throughout the Lower Mainland, hoping to educate British Columbians on the importance of providing services to the people who most need them.

Early this year, the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) was proud to endorse the Sanctuary City Principles for Vancouver:

  1. Access to basic and essential services will be determined by need and not migration status: Services such as education, health services, food security, dignified housing, public transit, public safety, legal aid, and municipal services are meant for everyone regardless of status.
  2. Access without fear: The fear of debt, deportation, and/or death should not limit people’s access to services. We recognize that the responsibility of enforcing immigration law falls onto Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) alone, and is NOT the responsibility of service providers, health care workers, other police agencies, transit security nor the municipal government.

As part of the plan to integrate the principles into the work of the BCGEU, the Education Department will be initiating a pilot where Sanctuary City workshops will be integrated into our education plan for some of our members who work with the public. "Letting our members know they don't have to check a client's migration status is an important step toward providing a safe space for care," said Andrea Duncan, vice president of community social services. "We are starting with our workers who deal with the most vulnerable populations, and depending on the pilot, we will expand to other components."

For more information on Sanctuary City and its principles, click here.
For more information on BCGEU's education department, click here.

April 25, 2016

Ergonomics in the workplace

Ergonomics is the science of adapting the workplace to the worker and the product to the user.

You are at risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) when you carry out work without first considering how the workplace suits you. This can lead to disabling conditions if not recognized and treated in the early stages. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Sections 4.46 – 4.53, require employers to set up an Ergonomics program at their workplace.

First and foremost, employers should consult with their workers and the OHS committee. The consultation process is most beneficial if it is carried out before a workspace changes or during the preliminary setup stages of a new workspace. A risk assessment must be conducted to identify which workers may be at risk of receiving a musculoskeletal injury. Risk factors that must be considered include:

  • The amount of force required to carry out tasks
  • The duration and frequency of these tasks
  • Contact stresses or awkward postures 
  • The size, shape and weight of handled objects
  • The layout of workstations
  • How often workers are required to reach 
  • Environmental conditions 

Other risk factors to consider include: the ability of the worker to vary their task, the work rate and how much recovery time there is between tasks. 

Once the risk assessment is completed and the employer has identified where the risks of injury are, the employer must then mitigate this risk by implementing control measures to protect the worker. The first step in this hierarchy of control measures is to eliminate the risk. If the risk cannot be eliminated, the employer must minimize this risk by substituting a safer process to protect the worker. If that is not sufficient to protect the worker, engineering a change to tools or the workspace must be considered.  Administrative controls could be implemented to change the staffing mix or to provide extra training. The last control measure the employer should consider is to provide personal protective equipment. This is a last resort and the least preferred control measure.

As a worker you have the right to be educated and properly trained to identify ergonomic risks, to recognize the early signs of MSI’s and to learn about the potential health effects. You must be trained to use safe work procedures and to correctly use mechanical aids and personal protective equipment. 

If you feel you are at risk of a musculoskeletal injury, you have the right to ask for an ergonomic assessment and the employer must provide you with this assessment. There is a definite link between poor work ergonomics and worker’s satisfaction and performance. A workplace without an effective ergonomic program can cause workers to suffer physical and emotional stress. This results in low productivity and poor quality of work. A proactive employer can help to support a positive working environment by ensuring an effective ergonomics program is in place and reviewed on an annual basis.

The BCGEU offers OHS courses in ergonomic assessment for direct government workers as well as workers covered under labour code agreements. Ensure you protect yourself from a musculoskeletal injury. Get educated about workplace ergonomics and your health and safety rights.

For more information, contact the BCGEU OHS department at [email protected] or call 604-291-9611.



April 20, 2016

Area 04 Local Executives, Stewards and OHS representatives evening workshop o...

The Area 04 Cross Component Committee presents an evening workshop on the duty to accommodate, medical notes and return to work.

This workshop will cover general information about the employer's duty to accommodate members who, because of a disability require accommodation in their job position or duties.

Date: May 10, 2016
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Fraser Valley Area Office
                8555 – 198A Street, Langley

To attend this informative evening workshop, please RSVP by calling the area office at 604-882-0111.  Space is limited so please be sure to register early.

Thank you!

In solidarity

Area 04 Cross Component Chair

Download PDF of notice here. 


April 07, 2016

BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety Networker Outreach

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Networker team had their initial meeting in January. The 21 BCGEU members appointed to the team are from all areas of the province. One of their first tasks is to contact BCGEU OHS committee representatives to let them know about upcoming training opportunities. 

The Networkers are also busy calling OHS representatives in their areas to determine if they still sit on their committee, update contact information and determine if these representatives want to be reappointed for another three-year term which would start on December 1, 2016. 

The OHS Networkers will be using this opportunity to listen to members’ concerns and point them towards additional resources. Please expect a call from the OHS Networkers as we prepare for the 2016 appointment and reappointment process.

Here is an overview of the Networkers’ role for this year:

1.    Auditing OHS committees and assisting with the growth of these committees
2.    Working with locals on OHS committee appointments 
3.    Scheduling OHS courses in consultation with BCGEU’s OHS Department and contacting members to increase participation
4.    Analyzing information and networking to identify non-compliant employers and ensure there are OHS committees or worker representatives at these workplaces 
5.    Acting as a resource for OHS committees, components, locals and area offices.

If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected] or call us at 1-800-663-1674