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Pages tagged "covid-19"

Your union and WorkSafeBC guidance for re-opening

Your union and WorkSafeBC guidance for re-opening 
 
Over the past 10 days, your union's executive, component vice presidents and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) team provided input to the Workers' Compensation Board (WorkSafeBC) as they developed guidance for sectors that are re-opening, as per the B.C. government's Restart Plan. 
 
We provided feedback on protocols and best practices to help each industry resume operations (or continue operations) in a safe way during the COVID-19 pandemic. We raised key issues and concerns and made practical suggestions for measures moving forward.
 
WorkSafeBC has now posted its guidance for some sectors on its website here. We encourage you to review the guidance for your sector. 
 
We know that the process of reopening will be challenging. As workplaces adapt to a new reality, it is critical that employers take all reasonable steps to protect workers, and that workers are included in the planning and implementation of new procedures, to address the risks associated with COVID-19. 

If you have any concerns or challenges as re-opening plans unfold, please notify your OHS rep, shop steward or email [email protected]. We will take action to help address your issues, and alert WorkSafeBC.




UWU/MoveUP


Child Care Pandemic Pay

To All Child Care Professionals
 
 
In our last bulletin to you we remarked on the recent acknowledgement from Premier John Horgan and Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen, about the critically important work you do. 

Unfortunately, it appears that the competing financial obligations of the provincial government meant that child care professionals were not included as recipients of the recently announced "pandemic pay". For information on this new program see https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020FIN0031-000907

Yesterday, we lobbied the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Shane Simpson, to ask the government to reconsider its position on providing pandemic pay to child care professionals. Today, your President, Stephanie Smith, who is also an early childhood educator, wrote to the Minister of Finance on your behalf to, again, implore government to reconsider including you as recipients of pandemic pay. You can see that letter here.

We know how important the role of child care professionals is to the social and economic recovery of this province in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that you are truly on the front lines providing critical support to parents and dedicated care to their children. And we will continue to lobby to ensure that you receive pandemic pay and the respect that you so deserve.
 
In solidarity,

Andrea Duncan,
Vice-President, Component 3

P.S.: Looking for additional resources on workplace health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic? Visit the OH&S section of the BCGEU COVID-19 Information Hub or information specific to the child care environment at: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_information_for_community_social_services_members.



UWU/MoveUP

An update from VP, Kusam Doal on the pandemic pay program

Earlier this week, the B.C. government released details of a federal-provincial cost-shared pandemic pay program to top up wages of some essential workers temporarily. Although many essential workers will be supported through the pandemic pay program, many will not. 

Negotiation with the B.C. government was not on the table, but the BCGEU pushed hard to ensure that the broadest range of essential workers were covered, including LDB workers. 

Frontline essential workers like you, who have faced increased risk, cost and inconvenience to serve your community throughout the pandemic-deserve to be recognized.
 
To be clear, while the government announcement has been made, our position has not changed and the fight is not over.
 
In the next coming days president Stephanie Smith will be reaching out to the government with two objectives: get some clarity about the criteria that were used to include some workers and exclude others from this important recognition program; and continue the BCGEU's push to have the program expanded to include more essential workers, like you. Stephanie will be keeping me up-to-date on these efforts so the information can be passed on to you.

If you have further questions regarding the pandemic pay program, I encourage you to reach out directly to your local MLA: https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members
 
We are working on ways that you and your co-workers can make sure the government hears your voice on the pandemic pay program. Stay tuned for more information on this. 

In solidarity, 

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

President Stephanie Smith's response to the announcement specifically mentioning LDB workers:
https://www.bcgeu.ca/_bcgeu_calls_for_expansion_of_b_c_s_pandemic_pay_program_for_essential_workers

President Stephanie Smith's response to the announcement on Radio NL Local First News specifically mentioning LDB workers: 
https://soundcloud.com/user-965676831/jeff-andreas-show-stephanie-smith-may-20




UWU/MoveUP


COVID-19 Update and BC Government Restart Plan for Members in Community Social Services (except Child Care)

For some workers in the community social services (CSS) sector, your programs have maintained staffing levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; for others, your programs may have closed or changed service delivery methods or you may have been deployed to other programs. In any of these cases, entering this next phase under the BC government's Restart Plan will involve further adaptations and adjustments at your workplaces, in programs, and in the delivery of services to your clients. As we navigate this gradual transition in the CSS sector, your union will continue to stay in communication with your employer to ensure that the directives from the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), and WorkSafeBC are being followed.
 
The most recent guidance from the BCCDC on the safe delivery of services in CSS can be accessed here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/community-settings/social-services-providers. This document contains information on both the risks and the appropriate preventative measures in the CSS environment.
 
The most recent guidance from WorkSafe BC on returning to safe operation during the pandemic can be accessed here: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/covid-19-returning-safe-operation. There is also a link to specific information in the drop down menu on the left of the above page that provides guidance to those providing in-person counselling that may apply to some CSS workers. It is unclear whether WorkSafeBC will be providing further guidance to specific work groups within the CSS sector.
 
The information from the PHO, the BCCDC, and WorkSafeBC provides direction to employers in the development of occupational health and safety (OH&S) measures for workplaces (called either an Exposure Control Plan or a COVID-19 Safety Plan). These measures need to be put in place to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 in the CSS setting. Many employers are working cooperatively with OH&S representatives and stewards in the development and finalization of these important measures and procedures. 

Please review your workplace's plan so that you are familiar with the protocols that your employer has put in place to ensure compliance with health and safety directives from the PHO, the BCCDC and WorkSafeBC. In the event that you or a colleague feel that the proper processes are not being followed, you should first bring the matter to the attention of your supervisor or manager to try to come to a resolution.

If the situation is not resolved or if you feel unsafe, B.C. Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 3.12 gives you the responsibility and requirement to refuse unsafe work. The process of exercising this right is outlined here: Refusing unsafe work

If you are unsure if you should be refusing unsafe work, or if you have any other questions, contact your shop steward or OHS representative so that they can advise you on your next steps.

Looking for additional resources on workplace health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic? Visit the OH&S section of the BCGEU COVID-19 Information Hub or information specific to the childcare environment at: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_information_for_community_social_services_members.

In solidarity,

 Andrea Duncan, BCGEU Component 3 Vice-President 

 



UWU/MoveUP

Pandemic pay – COVID-19 update, May 20

First, I would like to acknowledge the frontline workers that are finally receiving pandemic pay, many of these people were directly caring for people that are at risk, elderly and some of the most vulnerable people. Congratulations, you deserve to be recognized for your dedication and service during a pandemic and through this difficult time, we all thank you for your work and dedication.

Next I would like to comment on the workers that were not recognized with pandemic pay. Your component, your union and your president do acknowledge your work during this pandemic and requested that all BCGEU members working during the pandemic receive the pay for recognizing your work and efforts. This decision rests solely with the provincial government and they had the ability and authority to make the decision on this pay.

"We are happy that some of the lowest-wage members doing some of the highest-risk frontline jobs will be eligible. But the bottom line for us is that all frontline workers are shouldering an incredible burden in terms of increased cost, stress and inconvenience as well as increased risks to their emotional and physical health. All workers deserve recognition – not just some of them," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

This conversation will continue, requesting recognition of workers that provided essential services during the pandemic so that others could stay home, keeping us safe and flattening the curve. This includes following up with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Sector Employers' Council (PSEC) to get clarity on how government made their decisions, and to push for broader eligibility for the program.

Your component and your union have not stopped trying and working on your behalf when seemingly unsurmountable obstacles have been in front of us before, have faith that we are here and constantly working on your behalf.

Rory Smith
Component 10 Vice-President





UWU/MoveUP


Component 1 Update: Pandemic Pay for Corrections & Sheriffs

Component 1 Update: Pandemic Pay for Corrections & Sheriffs 


The B.C. Government today announced a lump-sum pandemic payment for essential frontline workers, including those in Adult Corrections, Youth Corrections and Sheriffs. The payment is calculated at $4 per straight-time hour covering a 16-week period retroactive to March 15, 2020. Eligible workers will receive the payment directly through their employer and do not need to apply.

This announcement is welcome news for all Component 1 members eligible to receive the pandemic pay, and comes at the end of many weeks of advocacy by the BCGEU and your Component 1 Executive. It is well deserved recognition for all the selfless and essential work you do on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further information on pandemic pay can be found at the links below.


Provincial government announces details of pandemic pay program for essential workers

Pandemic pay supports front-line health, social workers

B.C. COVID-19 Temporary Pandemic Pay


In solidarity,

Dean Purdy
Component 1 Chair & BCGEU Vice President



UWU/MoveUP


Provincial government announces details of pandemic pay program for essential workers

In mid-April the federal government announced it was working with the provinces on a cost-shared, temporary "pandemic pay" program to top up the wages of select essential frontline workers-under the cost-share, the federal government is responsible for 75 per cent of the funding and the provincial governments are responsible for the remaining 25 per cent. 

Ever since the initial announcement, your union has worked with our provincial government to ensure that B.C.'s program would cover the broadest possible group of BCGEU members working on the frontlines during COVID-19.

Today, the B.C. government announced the long-awaited details of the program. This program will impact different members differently and we are working with your component leadership to develop targeted bulletins. However, we wanted to ensure that all members got general information as quickly as possible. Here is what we know about the program based on today's announcement:

  • The program will provide a lump-sum payment calculated at $4 per straight-time hour covering a 16-week period retroactive to March 15, 2020.
  • Eligible workers must have worked straight-time hours during the 16-week period covered by the program.
  • There is no minimum threshold on hours, so casual and on-call hours are eligible.
  • Eligible workers will receive the payment directly from their employer and do not need to apply.
  • Government will be working with your employer on details of the disbursement, which are still being worked out. 

Our union worked hard to make sure the government took a broad approach to this program and, overall, we are happy with the outcome especially compared to other provinces. As a result of that approach, tens of thousands of BCGEU members will be covered including those providing care to our province's most vulnerable citizens in direct government, health services, and social services positions. Please read the full list here.

We applaud the objective of the pandemic pay program, we appreciate the efforts of our provincial government to consult with stakeholders-including our union-as they developed the program, and we are extremely pleased that the broad scope includes some of our lowest wage members doing some of the highest risk work. At the same time, we are disappointed that the government chose to exclude thousands more BCGEU members doing essential work. 

Our feedback to government during the consultation was that the program should be extended to all frontline essential workers and that recognizing some groups of workers while leaving others out would create unnecessary divisions at a moment when unity and solidarity among workers is more important than ever. To be clear, our stance has not changed: We still believe B.C.'s pandemic pay program should cover all frontline essential workers in recognition of the extraordinary stress, additional costs, and higher risks to mental and physical health they are facing right now. 

In the coming days we will be reaching out to the provincial government to vigorously restate our position, seek clarification on their choices, and continue to fight for more BCGEU members to be covered by the program.

In solidarity,
BCGEU Executive Committee



UWU/MoveUP


BCGEU calls for expansion of B.C.’s pandemic pay program for essential workers

BURNABY, B.C. – Today the B.C. government released long-awaited details of a federal-provincial cost-shared pandemic pay program to temporarily top up the wages of some essential workers. The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is calling on Victoria to expand the program to cover more essential frontline workers.

"The BCGEU pushed hard for this program to cover the broadest possible range of essential works and, as a result, B.C.'s program is significantly more inclusive than those in other provinces," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. "We're happy that some of our lowest-wage members doing some of the highest-risk frontline jobs will be eligible. But the bottom line for us is that all frontline essential workers are shouldering an incredible burden in terms of increased cost, stress and inconvenience as well as increased risks to their emotional and physical health. All of these workers deserve recognition-not just some of them."

Under the program, which was first announced by the federal government in mid-April, tens of thousands of BCGEU members will be eligible for a lump-sum payment calculated at $4 per straight-time hour retroactive to March 15, 2020. BCGEU members covered by the program include those providing vital services to the province's most vulnerable citizens like corrections officers, social workers, employment assistance workers, and those who work in health care and social services. However, thousands more BCGEU members have been left out of the program including those in public liquor and cannabis stores and warehouses, maintaining supply chains for the restaurant industry as well as a critical revenue stream for the government during the pandemic.

"From the moment this funding was announced by the federal government, our goal as a union was to make sure B.C.'s program covered the broadest possible swath of frontline essential workers," says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. "And our goal hasn't changed. This kind of patchwork recognition creates arbitrary divisions at a moment when unity and solidarity among workers is more important than ever. We're grateful for those who are covered, but we will keep fighting for those who aren't."

In addition to pushing for broader eligibility for the program, the BCGEU is continuing to work with partners in the labour movement and the social justice community on leveraging the lessons of the pandemic to improve the lives of working people with a focus on issues like family-supporting wages, universal child care, and enhanced workplace safety-including paid sick leave.

The BCGEU is one of the largest, most diverse and fastest growing unions in B.C. with more than 80,000 members working in almost every community and economic sector in the province.

For more information, contact BCGEU Communications, [email protected]



UWU/MoveUP


COVID-19 Update and BC Government Restart Plan

Greetings to my fellow early childhood educators. Hopefully you saw Premier John Horgan's press conference on Friday announcing that childcare and education are entering Phase 2 of the government's Restart Plan. In that announcement, both the Premier and Minister Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, acknowledged the vital work performed by early childhood educators and child care providers. We know our work is critical and the BCGEU will continue to lobby government to ensure that your work is recognized and valued now, during this pandemic, and in the future.

For some workers in the childcare sector, your centres have maintained staffing levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; for others, your programs may have closed. In either case, entering this next phase under the BC government's Restart Plan will involve increases in children at your centres and ongoing pandemic adaptations in delivery of care. As we navigate this gradual transition in the childcare environment, your union will continue to stay in communication with your employer to ensure that the directives from the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), and WorkSafeBC are being followed. 

The most recent guidance on the safe delivery of care in the childcare setting is contained in the May 15, 2020 BCCDC "COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings", which can be accessed here. This document contains very detailed information on both the risks and the appropriate preventative measures in the childcare environment. You can be reassured that the BCCDC states that: 
 
"COVID-19 virus has a very low infection rate in children. In B.C., less than 1% of children and youth tested have been COVID-19 positive. Most children are not at high risk for COVID-19 infection." 

Further, the BCCDC states:

"Children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in child care facilities, schools or in community settings."

Please review the document for a full discussion of pandemic issues specific to the childcare context. For more general information on returning to safe operation during the pandemic, see WorkSafeBC's website: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/covid-19-returning-safe-operation. WorkSafeBC has informed us that they will be providing additional childcare specific information at this link early this week. To access this specific information, go to the link and click "Child Care" on the left drop down menu.

The information from the PHO, the BCCDC, and WorkSafeBC provides direction to employers in the development of occupational health and safety (OH&S) measures for workplaces (called either an exposure control plan or a COVID-19 Safety Plan). These measures need to be put in place to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 in the childcare setting. Many employers are working cooperatively with OH&S representatives and stewards in the development and finalization of these important measures and procedures. 

Please review your workplace's plan so that you are familiar with the protocols that your employer has put in place to ensure compliance with health and safety directives from the PHO, the BCCDC and WorkSafeBC. In the event that you or a colleague feel that the proper processes are not being followed, you should first bring the matter to the attention of your supervisor or manager to try to come to a resolution.

If the situation is not resolved or if you feel unsafe, B.C. Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 3.12 gives you the responsibility and requirement to refuse unsafe work. The process of exercising this right is outlined here: Refusing unsafe work

If you are unsure if you should be refusing unsafe work, or if you have any other questions, contact your shop steward or OHS representative so that they can advise you on your next steps.

Looking for additional resources on workplace health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic? Visit the OH&S section of the BCGEU COVID-19 Information Hub or information specific to the childcare environment at: https://www.bcgeu.ca/covid_19_information_for_community_social_services_members.

In solidarity,

Andrea Duncan, BCGEU Component 3 Vice-President 




UWU/MoveUP


OHS Worker Representatives: Your Role In Return-To-Work Worksite Plans

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 [email protected].

Thank you again for being the workplace leader on OHS issue during this important time in our history.


In solidarity


Stephanie Smith
President


Please click here to download formal letter from Stephanie Smith



UWU/MoveUP