Protecting our grocery workers ?

Front-line workers deserve protection

Right now there are tens of thousands of pharmacy and grocery store staff who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring the public has access to food, prescriptions, and medical supplies. These workers are essential, and the public needs them to show up to work every day while everyone else is as asked to stay at home to preserve their safety.

These union and non-union workers alike are at a significant risk of exposure to the virus simply because they interact with more people than many other non-medical professions.

We are asking the BC government to take the following actions to help grocery and pharmacy store workers:

  1. Make grocery and pharmacy workers eligible for presumptive healthcare coverage: UFCW 1518 is pushing the government to designate all grocery and pharmacy workers as eligible for presumptive workers compensation coverage when they find themselves having to file a claim as a result of illness due to exposure to this contagion. Workers in these jobs that are diagnosed with COVID-19 must receive workers compensation without having to prove their conditions were caused at work.
  2. Apply limits to the number of shoppers allowed in retail locations: The government should apply limits to the numbers of shoppers that can be present in a retail location so as to allow social distancing. At the current restriction levels, the number of shoppers frequently exceeds the measures set out by the province, and this is dramatically increasing the risks to workers and the public.
  3. Enact a temporary ban on reusable bags in grocery stores and pharmacies: These bags can act as vectors for the COVID-19 contagion, spreading the virus from location to location.
  4. Encourage all retailers to supply workers on duty with masks, sanitizers, and paper towels: Require all retailers to supply masks, sanitizers, and paper towels to staff on duty before selling any of these products, and ensure that all workers are informed of the process and procedures they need to undertake to eliminate risk to their well-being.
  5. Extend EI benefits to at least 75% of insurable income and reduce barriers to EI: Extend Employment Insurance benefits to at least 75% of insurable income and reduce barriers to access EI. Many retail workers do not usually work enough hours to qualify for medical EI, and the reduction of hours to qualify is a necessary step to support many workers.
  6. Provide solutions to workers’ emergency childcare needs: Immediately open discussions to provide solutions for workers’ emergency childcare needs including paid family leave.

We need your help to pressure the government to take these important actions. It is essential that we protect the grocery and pharmacy workers that are helping to flatten the curve on the COVID-19 crisis.

That’s why we’re asking you to write a letter to Provincial Minister Bains, Minister Dix & Federal Minister Hajdu to request action on behalf of workers. You can use the pre-written letter below or write your own, either one will add your voice to the call for COVID-19 protections and will show your support for the workers. Make sure to share the campaign widely with your friends and family!

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is everyone’s responsibility. Click here for more information on what you can do to stay safe.