CWA Canada has rolled out a coronavirus action plan to its Locals across the country as more than 110,000 cases of COVID-19 infection have been reported worldwide.
President Martin O’Hanlon said the media union is working with its international union, the Communications Workers of America, on a co-ordinated response and tracking system for each workplace.
“It’s important that we as union leaders inform and protect our members and ensure that our employers are taking appropriate precautions,” O’Hanlon said.
Locals have been provided with a template letter to send to employers to find out what protocols are in place to protect workers and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The union also wants assurances that employees will not be penalized for missing work due to the virus and that they can opt out of high-risk assignments, such as those involving public exposure, without being disciplined.
“Locals should request answers from each employer in writing to ensure our members will not be disciplined or go unpaid for getting sick or taking care of a sick loved one,” O’Hanlon said.
Each Local has also been asked to designate a point person to monitor the spread of the virus and the employer responses in each workplace.
The letter to employers makes clear that the union’s goal is to provide its members “the most comprehensive safety and prevention measures. This must be done in an environment that encourages open and free communication without fear of reprisal or negative impacts on pay or continued employment.”
Questions to employers include whether processes or protocols are in place for contact tracing, reporting symptoms or exposure, safeguards to protect customer-facing employees, and contingency plans in case of a shutdown.
Members are being advised to check the Health Canada website regularly for updates on the virus and how to protect themselves.