BCGEU wants stronger mask and renewed remote work policies

THE B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) has called on the BC Public Service Agency to take immediate action to protect employees in their workplaces as new cases of COVID-19 increase across the province and surge in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

In a conversation with Don Wright, Head of Public Service Agency (PSA), BCGEU President Stephanie Smith urged the province’s largest employer to adopt new workplace safety policies including: making masks mandatory in communal workplace spaces province-wide and supporting remote work for non-essential workers in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.

“The PSA has an opportunity to set a positive example of COVID safety in the workplace that all employers in the province could follow,” said Smith. “I’m pleased they are taking a safer approach to remote work but I believe they could and should show stronger leadership by implementing a mandatory mask policy in their workplaces.”

In order to ensure that adequate protections are undertaken for members across various industries, BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers monitor research on workplace transmission of the virus and works with member OHS committees to ensure that current best practices are followed. As the latest provincial briefings indicate that enclosed communal workspaces have been linked to COVID-19 infections in the province, BCGEU OHS officers recommended the policies laid out in the letter to Wright.

“It is now widely recognized that airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur under certain conditions,” stated a memo included in the letter to Wright. “In light of these developments, and in keeping with the precautionary principle, the government must immediately review and strengthen measures to minimize exposure to the virus among workers in the BC Public Service.”