I hope you are keeping well, and finding ways to stay connected with family and friends from a safe distance these days. It's so important to remember the value of a good phone visit, a bit of fresh air, and some relaxation tools to counter the anxiety the Covid-19 pandemic can inspire.
Tony, Paul and I have spent many hours every day on the phone and in Zoom meetings this week, working to make sure your health is safeguarded and your leave banks are protected. We want workers in all employment categories to know they are being treated fairly, and equitably.
Here are some of the issues we're discussing with employers:
- We see different or inequitable demands on workers regarding leave needed to self-isolate or even to work from home. This is happening with a few employers, and across departments.
- There's been a failure to release some non-essential staff to work from home. Not all managers or supervisors are permitting workers to follow the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
- You need clarity on functional details around working from home including the need for appropriate equipment and internet access.
- Public servants in contact with the public are not being equally protected - for example, many health care workers are provided full personal protective equipment (PPE), while many retail and other workers haven't been given much of anything.
- We're bringing forward your OH&S concerns. We've heard from many of you that OH&S questions are not being answered, or are answered inadequately.
- We've seen temporary layoffs in a couple of our smaller locals. Where that's taken place, the employers have followed the process and language in their collective agreements. That's critical so staff can apply quickly for Covid-19 EI benefits. We will be monitoring this carefully; please keep us updated, and we'll keep talking with employers.
- Some of you must deal with travelers; those bringing goods and equipment north, arriving at the airports etc. We want to know you are protected, and that your employer is keeping you safe.
If you believe your rights under your collective agreement have been breached or unfairly applied or that your employer is putting you at risk, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE THE ONLINE INTAKE FORM. It's the best way to get your message to us right now.
We don't want any worker - YEU member or non-unionized, to suffer hardship as a result of this global pandemic. When the situation normalizes (sooner than later, we hope), it will be up to workers like you to get this territory back into high gear. We want you to be in a healthy position throughout the crisis so you can get a running start at the other end of it all.
It looks like we will have some answers for you this week, as employers large and small figure out how to do the right thing.
Steve Geick, President
Yukon Employees' Union