The BCGEU has been successful in its bid to have the employer suspend the use of 'greeter' staff in the reception areas of Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (MSDPR) offices across the province, pending a review of safety concerns raised by staff.
The employer began assigning new greeter staff responsibilities at the MSDPR office on Pandora Ave. in Victoria in December 2018 without any consultation or risk assessments being completed, as required by WCB regulations. Greeters were placed in unsecured reception areas of ministry offices with no access to health and safety tools, no personal alarm devices and no security cameras in place.
The Pandora office is one of the highest-risk income assistance offices in B.C. A number of death threats to greeters have been reported since the practice was implemented. However, no Joint Occupational Safety and Health (JOSH) investigations have yet been completed.
Seven BCGEU members have refused to do greeter duty, due to safety concerns. The employer had advised that unless workers have a doctor's certificate, they would be instructed to do the job or face disciplinary action for insubordination.
On May 17, 2019 the union formally requested that the employer cease the greeter practice immediately, until the Workers Compensation Act and OHS Regulations have been met. The union has also asked that a comprehensive risk assessment for this position be completed and all JOSH investigations be completed before any decision to resume this work function.
On May 18, 2019 a conference call with the Joint Article 29 committee, the BCGEU again requested that the employer stop the greeter practice until the WC Act and OHS Regulations were in place to address the health and safety concerns raised by members.
When the employer advised that they would not cease the practice, even to allow time to ensure compliance with the WCB Act and OHS regulations, the BCGEU advised that we would notify WCB to protect our members' safety.
The employer subsequently advised that they would agree to temporarily cease the greeter practice, with the understanding that the union must provide evidence of our members' health and safety concerns by May 27, 2019.
On May 22, 2019 the union raised the greeter health and safety issue again at the BCGEU-Public Service Provincial JOSH Committee meeting. The employer responded that they would agree to halt the placement of greeters in MSDPR offices until all incident investigations and risk assessments are completed.
If members have OHS concerns at your worksite, you are encouraged to report them to your worksite OHS rep or steward, who will report back to the union.
Judy Fox-McGuire, VP Social, Information and Health Component 6
Maria Middlemiss, VP Administrative Services Component 12
Lori Strom, BCGEU Staff Representative
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