Message from Mike Gallagher, Business Manager of IUOE Local 793

IUOE Local 793 supports the Building Trades on their Advisory for Construction Workplaces in Ontario letter (see letter below). A prolonged shutdown would have a negative impact on members’ benefits, pension and training funds, as they rely on contributions to be able to administer and provide the level of benefits we currently enjoy.

While a short ‘pause’ could be managed, any shutdown of our industry without corresponding government support of pension, benefits and training funds would inevitably lead to reduced benefits and training delivery.

Our members’ health and safety are our first priority, and employers and the Ministry of Labour need to step up and enforce safe workplaces and best practices.

Also, no member should be disciplined or prevented to being recalled due to the COVID-19 virus or the disruption by school and daycare closures or sick family members. Our members want to work and are known for their exceptional attendance record in normal circumstances. So long as contractors are respectful of the health of our membership and take reasonable measures such as social distancing and good hygiene, then members are prepared to go to work.

On the same token, members should not be disciplined if they have an ill family member, if they themselves are ill, or they are in quarantine or self-isolating on the recommendation of their family physician.

Fraternally Yours,
Mike Gallagher
Business Manager, IUOE Local 793

March 20, 2020

With the ever-evolving situation concerning the Coronavirus also known as COVID-19, we are advising that construction worksites in the province of Ontario remain open and that the appropriate preventative measures be implemented and enforced on every construction worksite in the province. Accordingly, the Construction Employers Coordinating Council of Ontario (CECCO), the Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA), the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO), and the Provincial Building & Construction Trades Council of Ontario (PBCTCO) call on the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to enhance its Enforcement activities to ensure compliance with the requirements outlined below. To date, COVID-19 has been characterized as a pandemic worldwide. Below is a list of symptoms that may appear:

· fever
· cough / sore throat
· difficulty breathing / fatigue
· muscle aches / headaches
· runny nose
· diarrhea

In response to the construction industry’s questions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, the following are preventative steps everyone should be taking now:

· If you are feeling sick, do not go to work or if you’re at work and feel sick, go home
· Don’t shake hands when greeting others.
· Try to stay three to six feet away from others in gatherings, meetings, and training sessions.
· Avoid contact with sick people.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
· Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol.
· It is especially important to wash hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

Construction industry employers should also:

· Stagger work breaks (including lunch) to ensure social distancing in the workplace.
· Provide access to soap and running water on all jobsites for frequent handwashing.
· Provide the appropriate hand sanitizer when soap and running water are impossible.
· Plan for office staff to have the ability to work from home.

This contagion is understandably consuming Ontarians’ attention and we are trying to monitor the situation as closely as we can. In the interest of the well-being of the construction workforce and the Ontario population in general, the decision to shut down (or not to shut down) the construction industry will be guided by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in consultation with the appropriate government authorities, construction employers, and the Building Trades Council.