OHS Webinar Series – Session 1

The Air Canada Component Occupational Health and Safety Committee is pleased to announce a series of webinars designed to inform and provide an opportunity to ask questions on a variety of topics identified by you, the members, as priorities in our recent survey.

The first webinar will focus on the following:

  • The Union and its safety committee. What are their respective roles when it comes to health and safety? What governs health and safety? How can members like you participate? How can you assist us in furthering change?
  • A case study of how the Union and committee functions using a real-world issue that our members highlighted as important: cabin baggage.

As bidding has closed, we will be holding two separate sessions to allow for the greatest possible participation from members. Based on feedback, further sessions may also be added.

Planned sessions are:

– DEC 7, 2021 – OHS Webinar Series Session #1A The Union, it’s H&S Committee and their roles

– DEC 16, 2021 – OHS Webinar Series Session #1B The Union, it’s H&S Committee and their roles

To register for one of these sessions please click on the link below:

https://forms.office.com/r/W35a8ySKiJ

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee

The Company’s Recent Town Hall Meeting

The company’s recent town hall meeting included some positive takeaways like network growth, recalls, and even the possibility of hiring next year.

You should know that while it is important that the employer engage our members directly, it is sometimes a very one-sided take on the realities you face out on the line. In some cases, it can misrepresent the interactions we have had with management. There are a few things that we would like to clarify or expand upon:

Will mandatory mask policies be removed once everyone onboard is fully vaccinated?
It was stated by the company that were government mandates to be removed, the company’s policy might be changed to allow for masks to be optional in the workplace.

To be clear: the Union has not had any discussion with management on this. The union’s position is that masks ought to be maintained until we are no longer dealing with a pandemic spread situation. As an international carrier, it is not as simple as following local guidelines. The scope of our operations must also be considered as well as the hazard that this poses to crews.

Cabin crew as stakeholders:
The company made a point of noting our membership’s important place as a stakeholder. In its responses to you, management continues to talk about risk assessments proving service is safe and stated that “health and safety participated”. It should not come as a shock, that there are frequently disagreements between management and the Union regarding matters related to safety and service increases. And while it is true that we participate in good faith, this does not mean that we agree.

Our concerns with the company’s risk assessments include, but are not limited to:

  • The risk assessments include the monitoring and review of injuries and health and safety complaints. But the company is so behind reviewing them that huge numbers of reports have sat for extended periods before being looked at by management.
  • Cases where measures called for in the risk assessment were partially completed. This has the effect of nullifying the reported “residual risk” level.
  • The company hasn’t made clear where it draws the line in terms of how many injuries would cause it to re-assess its processes (known as an accepted level of risk).
  • The company flatly refused to allow our CUPE subject matter expert in immune systems participate in the service risk assessment.
  • The company’s infectious disease expert agreed that the risk assessment into service needed to be re-evaluated based on the reports that you have been filing, and realities you have been expressing. Yet the original assessment continues to be cited as proving service levels are safe.
  • A lack of record in the final document for dissenting opinions or issues that the group felt were important but could not reach consensus on.
  • Various technical/procedural concerns with the process itself.

The company’s duty to inform:
On the call, the company stated that it didn’t have stats on hand but that the health and safety committees have the stats on COVID in the workplace. This is incorrect. Only the management has full and complete numbers since only the employer currently has full access to reports. The joint committees do their best to keep track but do so using a patchwork of illness/injury reports and anonymous data generated by contact tracing. The result is confusing, and sometimes inaccurate.

Consider this: If it is true that the company management doesn’t have full figures related to COVID-19 in the workplace, how on earth are risk assessments and services changes approved?

The Canada Labour Code makes it explicitly clear in section 125(1) that it falls to the employer to advise workers about hazards in the workplace, safe work practices, and maintain accurate records. The role of health and safety committees is primarily (but not exclusively) to participate in development of company policies, procedures, and programs. We are also participating in investigations, review health and safety complaints and to formulate recommendations to the employer based on findings.

The Union disputes the company’s benchmarking:
Nearly 30 minutes of the town hall focussed on the company’s comparison of service on other carriers, noting that Lufthansa and Qatar exceed our standards. But we are a different airline from a different country and cannot properly be compared.

To be clear: we feel that it is important to consider all aspects of the competition, and to keep in mind that foreign carriers may operate under different health and safety laws and regulations as well as crew complements.

For example, the union raised the decision of Southwest and American Airlines to postpone re-introduction of alcohol onboard their flights citing a rise in disruptive passenger incidents. Our management declined to follow even though we continue to grapple with the same problems onboard.

Particularly within North America, the Union has noted that our service standard far outpaces the competition at a time when safety should be the priority. Our CUPE member airlines report that this is causing a vicious circle in the domestic market: as our company ups service, it prompts the competition to discuss increasing theirs. Our management then argues service needs to be upped further due to the competition.

It was mentioned that customers are saying it’s safe to fly. What the passengers believe to be safe and what is necessary to ensure safety are not always aligned. The law does not say “ask the customer for safety advice”. It requires dialogue with the workers for this kind of feedback.

Past History:
The Union and company spent many months collaborating on service that both respected the need for limited contact, while also providing our customers the nourishment they need in an appealing way. The Union made it clear that it was prepared to continue work to develop safe service with the company. Instead, management appears to be taking a “COVID is over” approach intended to bring us back to pre-COVID levels as quickly as possible no matter what employees report.

In fact, the company has increasingly portrayed COVID-19 measures as an obstacle to its recovery and success.

Let’s not forget that at a time when the company was being slammed for its marketing at the end of the second wave and being made into a scapegoat by politicians, it was measures like clean care kits, crew in full PPE and a nice product with limited interaction that were instrumental to re-gaining public confidence in our industry. Things like masking and avoiding close physical contact are proven to be some of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of this virus. Our industry must continue to prove that it is part of the solution – not the problem – and this will not be achieved with meal choices.

Our dedication to reporting, strict and efficient onboard COVID procedures, and maintaining our PPE during the pandemic is why passengers feel safe – not the number of drink choices. We agree that service is important. Great service includes, above all, keeping everyone – crew and customers – healthy and safe so they can get to where they are going and return home to their families.

The Union’s bulletins on reporting can be found here:

Bulletin:
https://mailchi.mp/3f6c6b64a7f7/reporting-tablissement-de-rapports?e=2008c96150

FAQ:
https://mailchi.mp/8ebbaee0dc29/reporting-follow-up-bulletin-bulletin-de-suivi-des-rapports?e=ab1d70c598

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee

REMINDER – Occupational Health and Safety Survey

After a tough year and a half and an incredible response from you our members in promoting our collective health and safety during the pandemic, we are looking to keep that momentum going. While we acknowledge the pandemic is very much still a concern, we are asking for your guidance for future initiatives. Linked below is a short survey that will help us create and guide future projects at the Air Canada Component Occupational Health and Safety Committee to benefit you, the members.

https://forms.office.com/r/yfjykk6N7K

The information is for follow-up purposes only and identifiable data will not be shared.

Thank you in advance for your participation and your continued commitment to safety.

*** This survey is for future use. If you have a current health and safety complaint, please file the appropriate health and safety report with the company, and feel free to reach out to the union.  ***

For information on how to report, consult the Union’s reporting bulletin HERE and reporting Q&A HERE.

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee

Coronavirus Update 39

As we unfortunately see a rise in cases of COVID-19 cases on flights as well as  amongst employees, we would like to remind you of some union initiatives as well as provide guidance should you fall ill.

For Rouge members, a version of this bulletin specific to your workplace will be issued shortly.

Mask Compliance:
Mask usage onboard remains one of the primary methods of source control. Masks protect others, so when customers don’t comply it puts you at increased risk. It’s for this reason that you have a requirement to report non-compliance to Air Canada/ Air Canada Rouge using a disruptive passenger e-report. This helps your H&S committees do their work and provides valuable data to the company and Transport Canada so that the problem can be monitored.

NOTE: The most recent IFS news stated that an individual e-report should be filed for each infraction. This is neither practical nor realistic for crew members who are routinely experiencing non-compliance in the high double-digits on many flights. Your Union will repeat its previous message, which also reflects discussions at the company health and safety committees: Any report is better than no report. If necessary, itemize multiple cases on the same flight taking care to make note of the flight number, seat, date and general description of the behaviour. Disruptive passenger e-reports contain many sections for information that you may not have. Complete what you know and submit.

The Union is also asking you advise us here of compliance issuesMask non-compliance form This will allow us to monitor the situation and to ensure we also have clear information on problematic routes and destinations.  This information will NOT be shared with the company in detail, and it does not replace the formal reporting process.

Resources and guidance including when it is appropriate to request compliance can be found on ACAeronet > ePub > COVID-19 Tile > Face covering policy

If you fall ill with COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms:

  1. You must not come to work if you feel ill. Use the company’s COVID-19 wellness check tool Main Page > More News > COVID-19 Updates>Wellness check tool
  2. Ensure to book off and take appropriate precautions if you develop symptoms and to contact IFScontacttracing@aircanada.ca if you could have been in contact with any company personnel within the 14 days leading up to illness. This will allow their team to notify any affected workers so that they can also take appropriate precautions. We strongly suggest copying the union contact@accomponent.ca .
  3. Ensure to file a work-related injury/illness e-report if you have reason to suspect you became ill due to an exposure at work (ex. If you were notified of an exposure on a previous flight). Only reported illness is tracked and investigated by the h&s committees.
  4. File for workers compensation / WIP if applicable.
  5. On layover, call Medaire (ML) or Allianz (RG) who will evaluate you and provide guidance and medical care if necessary.

Reporting:
A reminder that reporting is crucial to the health and safety process. The Union recently released two bulletins in response to many questions and comment from members. They can be consulted at the links below.

Reporting bulletin
https://mailchi.mp/3f6c6b64a7f7/reporting-tablissement-de-rapports?e=2008c96150

Reporting FAQ bulletin
https://mailchi.mp/8ebbaee0dc29/reporting-follow-up-bulletin-bulletin-de-suivi-des-rapports?e=ab1d70c598

Legal:
The Union continues to uphold its members rights by supporting them and has filed an appeal at the Canada Industrial Relations Board to a work refusal decision of no danger related to certain recent service increases.

The Union reminds its members that the right to refuse dangerous work is an individual right and decision. Further information about the work refusal process can be found by emailing rtr@accomponent.ca and consulting chapter 2 in the FAM.

In Solidarity,

Reporting Follow Up Bulletin

The Union needs your feedback about passenger mask compliance!

The Union is busy discussing the clear problems you have been raising about mask compliance and service issues onboard with the respective government agencies as well as management.

In order to best illustrate the problem and help us advocate on your behalf we are sharing the following link that will take you to a convenient form where you can advise the Union about mask-related problems onboard.

Remember this does NOT get sent to the company so you must still file all required reports.

Member Resources – AC Component – See forms section > Mask Compliance Form

Follow-up about reporting:

On July 19, 2021 the Union issued a bulletin about reporting (you can consult it HERE). Based on your feedback, we have created the following Q & A:

Q1:         The FAM says to complete an H&S Complaint eReport “if you believe on reasonable grounds that there has been a contravention of the Canada Labour Code Part II.” What does this mean? (FAM 2.1.3.1)
A1:         Employers are held to a high standard for safety. This is covered by a general duty clause in the law which states that “…every employer shall ensure that the health and safety at work of every person employed by the employer is protected.” (CLC Part II s124)

Simply put, anything that could negatively affect workplace safety and/or create a potential hazard is something that the company should address, and that should be reported using this report.

Q2:         When I select a health and safety complaint eReport, it suggests first discussing it with a manager. Is this mandatory? What if I wrote about it on Yammer?
A2:         The Canada Labour Code Part II (Code) states that a Health and Safety complaint can be filed verbally or in writing to the employer– it doesn’t specify any type of report. If you raise a complaint verbally or on Yammer then THAT is your complaint and the company must begin attempting to resolve it with you as of that point in time.

However, YOUR UNION strongly suggests documenting a verbal complaint or a Yammer post using a health and safety complaint e-report since this is the dedicated channel for these issues.  This ensures that things are documented, tracked in the H&S database and that you get proper follow-up. YOUR UNION Health and Safety representatives are also able to see your complaint as it is being responded to in the system.

To document a previously reported (verbal, Yammer, other) complaint:
1. The H&S Complaint eReport asks “Did you try to resolve the concern with your supervisor”.
2. Select YES
3. State when and with whom in your report.

If management is unable to resolve the issue with you or it has been more than 30 days, you can refer your complaint to the joint committee for investigation.

Q3:         When I click “submit” I get an “unknown error” message.
A3:         We have flagged this issue to the company. In the meanwhile, there is a fix that you only need to do once:

1. In the report window, click the “set department” button in the bottom right
2. Search for “in-flight”
3. Select “in-flight department”
4. Click submit.

Q4:         I got a response from my manager but want to refer the complaint to the health and safety committee. How do I do that?
A4:         Just below the box with the manager’s response it says, “click the following link to submit your answer”.

1. Click the link.
2. Select whether the complaint is resolved or not. Selecting that it is not resolved will automatically place the complaint on the workplace health and safety committee’s agenda.
3. The system will ask why it isn’t resolved, briefly state why.

Q5:         My in-charge or captain said they’d file a report. Do I still have to do one?
A5:         Yes. It is everyone’s responsibility to file reports – including disruptive passenger security e-reports. That’s why they’re included in our ART each year. You only need to jot down the basic facts. Someone can always follow up for more information, but they can’t do anything about an issue that hasn’t been reported at all.

Q6:         The Disruptive Passenger Security eReport asks for details I don’t have. Can I still file one?
A6:         Yes. Just input the information that you do know. For mask compliance the most important information is flight, date, seat number, brief description, name of the passenger (if you happen to know it). For a group of persons, itemize them all in the comment box.