Message on behalf of Business Manager Mike Gallagher:
I would like to update members on the new IUOE Local 793 Safety Protocol for Jobsite Measures that our union has developed and circulated to some employers, municipalities, the federal COVID-19 cabinet committee and to Canadian Regional Director Lionel Railton.
The Safety Protocol for Jobsite Measures was developed by Local 793 because of the urgent need to ensure that construction workers are able to go to work and come home safely. Every protective measure contained in the protocol was based on advice from national and international health experts.
Although the Safety Protocol for Jobsite Measures is an excellent template and should be used by the industry in a perfect world, we are not in a perfect world. For example, many of our employers are donating their N95 respirator mask to frontline health workers. This means that the masks will not be available to our members until some unknown time in the future. As the common expression goes ‘you can’t drive a round peg into a square hole.’
I’m of the opinion that most of our employers want to do the right thing and would embrace a safety protocol but they don’t want to commit to what they can’t comply with. It’s hard to blame them for that.
Therefore, I have reached out to EllisDon Labour Relations manager Tom Howell and after a frank conversation, he has agreed to sit down with Local 793’s Labour Relations department and discuss a coordinated effort to develop a policy.
I have also spoke to Regional Director Railton and asked for the Canadian Building Trades safety protocol. He informed me that he has been assigned to their committee and that they are working on an industry policy.
We will spend a short period of time trying to reach a jointly endorsed policy with general contractors and owner clients. In the meantime, Local 793 will continue to enforce best practices contained in the union’s safety protocol and Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
Any member disciplined or fired for wishing to remain home during the 14-day self-isolation period must be protected. This is especially true if they have underlying health conditions.
Stay safe, healthy and take care of your families.