In Touch – June 2022

Thank you, upcoming online events:
Thank you to everyone for reporting and for participating in the health and safety survey. While the members’ health and safety priorities survey went out at the end of last year, we have been planning and developing educational initiatives for your most asked questions. There was an untimely pause after the launch of our online educational activities last fall due to the omicron wave.

But starting back up in August we will continue to roll these out beginning with a repeat of the first webinar on the basics of health and safety and reporting. The next few online events will focus on topics like fatigue, violence, and harassment in the workplace, 737, 220, air quality and psychological hazards in the workplace.

Thermometer keychains:
Good news! Back by popular demand, the Component Health and Safety Committee will once again be offering keychains with integrated thermometers. These will be available at base local union offices and include an email link that will automatically respond with information about their proper use and how to report temperature issues in the workplace.

These will help members accurately report temperatures, not just onboard aircraft, but in other places where it’s sometimes hard to determine how hot or cold it is like crew transport and hotel rooms. By citing specific temperature readings, you will be adding useful information for the employer as well as hotel and safety committees to base their work and use when conducting follow-ups.

Get to know your reps and reach out!
You’re always welcome to stop by the local health and safety office at your base. Their locations, phone numbers and emails can be found below. In addition, we have included the contact information for us at the Air Canada Component. Although we don’t have an airport office, we maintain an “open door” policy by phone and email!

Remember that official reporting remains crucial to the safety process and us representing you! To read the Union’s bulletin about reporting click HERE.

YYC: Next to the local union office on departure level between the outside doors 7/8.
T- 403-221-2625
healthandsafety@local4095.ca

YYZ: Terminal 1. Room EBS121. (Hallway by the elevators near crew centre)
T- 905-676-4352
sante.health@local4092.ca

YUL: Located in the comm center
T- 514-422-2432
sante.health@local4091.ca

YVR: Located in the union office
T- 604-276-4625

Rouge: located in Rouge 4098 YYZ Local Office level 2 T1
health.safety@cupe4098.ca
T- 905-678-6330

Component Health and Safety:
sante.health@accomponent.ca
T- 416-798-3399 Ext. 264

Educational initiatives for committee members:
Continuing education is an essential part of our roles as representatives. Health and safety is a dynamic field, and through learning opportunities, we can remain on top of emerging concepts and best practices. This not only allows us to represent you with more confidence but gives us more to bring to the table when committees are trying to find ways to address safety issues.

This past year your Chair and Vice-Chairpersons began courses at the University of Calgary’s Occupational Health and Safety program. We’re pleased to report that by December 2022 we should have our Fundamental and Advanced certificates.

We will be recommending making the following courses available to all committee members in the proposed 2022/2023 budget:

  • CUPE National airline-specific 3-day health and safety introductory course.
  • Occupational Hygiene Basics (toxicology, hearing, breathing, infectious agents)
  • Hazard and risk analysis

They will empower all our front-line reps to better understand and apply the complex concepts and systems involved in health and safety work.

ADCP/CFAU outreach:
As part of the Union’s resumption of normal operations the Airline Division Health and Safety Committee met in Toronto on June 1st to review current common challenges and resume work on some important projects that it had begun last year.

These include a common communication platform to facilitate ongoing discussion between our twice-yearly meetings as well as initial steps towards creating a program that would mobilize Union resources to provide critical incident support to members involved in serious incidents.

Regulatory Issues:
Over the past two years, members have expressed deep concern about the approach of the two regulating agencies that oversee health and safety in the federal transport sector: Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Transport Canada (TC). The general feeling expressed to us has been that it seems anything goes, no matter what employees report, no matter what hazards we face as workers.

It is important to know that your union has met regularly with both agencies throughout the pandemic and intends to continue engaging them again soon. We don’t blindly trust what we are told and must be bluntly honest with the membership that in some notable instances, these agencies appear to be all talk no walk.

Particularly concerning to your Union are comments that have been made by government staff, which call into question the proper application of the Federal Labour Program as well as whether the two agencies are fulfilling their obligations untoward one another when it comes to sharing of information, support, and general joint oversight of their work.

The Union is filing extensive access to information requests to seek confirmation of what we have been told so far in these meetings, as well as to follow up on the concerning things shared by agency workers.

THIS DOESN’T MEAN REPORTING IS USELESS! Multiple agency workers have told the Union that continued reporting will be crucial to demonstrate whether the agencies are effectively overseeing safety programs at the company.

To read the Union’s bulletin about reporting click HERE.

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee

Monkeypox Update #1

As you are all undoubtedly aware by now, there is currently an ongoing global outbreak of the Monkeypox virus.

What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease from the same group that includes the better-known smallpox, which was eradicated in 1978.

Although both viruses are related, the mortality rates associated with monkeypox are generally lower than smallpox.

According to the Federal government, a person can contract monkeypox when they come into close contact with:

  • an infected animal
  • an infected human via respiratory droplets (possibly aerosols) and exposure to lesions that develop.
  • materials contaminated with the virus

The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or via mucous membranes.

Transmission can occur by direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions, non-intact skin or scabs, indirect contact with clothing or linens used by an infected person, or close contact with the respiratory tract secretions of an individual with monkeypox.

For further information about monkeypox, please consult Global Affairs Canada’s page which includes links to various agencies including the World Health Organization’s fact sheet on the virus:

https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/travel-health-notices/229

What can you do to protect yourself?
We find ourselves in an interesting situation because many of the protections for monkeypox are already available and familiar due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, the Federal government recommends healthcare settings should implement droplet and contact precautions, in addition to airborne precautions until more information about the potential for aerosol transmission is known.  There have been no recommendations for flight attendants or working onboard an aircraft.  CUPE continues to strongly recommend we follow the precautionary principle and encourage members to avail themselves of the personal protective equipment currently available.

Therefore, when at work (aircraft, airport, transportation and layovers) we advise:

  • avoiding direct personal contact
  • continuing to use respiratory protection like N95 respirators or their equivalent, or double masking (cloth over surgical) to provide protection.
  • The use of gloves whenever you may come into contact with service items contaminated by secretions, or which could have contacted skin lesions (ex. Pickup). Gloves are also important when engaging in any activities like first aid which may require skin-skin contact should also be employed.

On a layover, respiratory protection remains important as does avoiding crowded venues, and practicing physical distancing whenever possible. Concerns about your room (ex. bed linens) should be addressed with the hotel and reported to your company to conduct a follow-up.

In summary:
As much as we are all fed up with things like masking, physical distancing and hand washing, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that even in brighter times a virus can pop up with little warning. We’re seeing that now with Monkeypox just like we have in the past with SARS and Ebola. Having the correct tools available to protect ourselves and following preventative practices presents the best chance of stopping the spread and avoiding the kind of experiences we have been enduring since 2020.

Currently, the Union urges workers to speak up by reporting to their employer things like shortages or unavailability of PPE like gloves, masks and respirators. We also urge employers to ensure that they remain nimble and prepared to respond to future diseases, like Monkeypox, by consistently having supplies of appropriate PPE available for the crew.

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee

Health & Safety Update – Customs Metering & Fatigue

As most of you have experienced firsthand, fatigue is common within the airline industry, and it is a serious concern because it leads to impairment. In a survey of the members in 2015, 78% of Flight Attendants reported that they felt fatigued to the point where they were concerned about their ability to remember work procedures, and almost more than three quarters of Flight Attendants surveyed reporting that level of fatigue at least three times per year.  Most commonly, too many flights in the schedule or too little time in-between multiple pairings, were cited as the cause.

Recently our members reported that crew rest both on layover and at home is being eaten away by CBSA metering delays on arrival. They also reported that the crew rest they got wasn’t sufficient to cover what ends up becoming a much longer duty day than planned.

Our SOPs as outlined in the flight attendant manual require us to report for work fit for duty.

In some cases, like when customs metering delays your ability to leave the flight, the cause of fatigue may be directly linked to your work.

If, as a direct result of your work, you find yourself in a physical and/or mental state that renders you unfit for duty:

Follow the injury-on-duty process including:

  • Book off injury-on-duty
    • And calling Medaire if away from base
  • File a work-related Illness/injury e-report (at Rouge ID your safety report as such), being clear
    • It is critical in to document the following in your report:
      • Work factors leading to fatigue
      • Mental as well as physical impacts rendering you unable to report for your next shift
      • Impacts on safety and SOP’s
  • Seeking prompt medical evaluation, noting it is work-related
  • Following through with the injury-on-duty process. See your local union office for assistance

If you feel that something in the workplace is causing fatigue and could pose a hazard or risk to safety:

File a health and safety complaint e-report, ensuring to document:

  • Work factors leading to fatigue
  • Mental as well as physical impacts
  • Impacts on safety and SOPs

Reporting is crucial to document workplace issues (for example customs metering) which, with the proper information, can be addressed through various forms of policy change.

How to report:

Remember that we cannot effectively monitor social media, including Yammer. It is not an effective means to raise safety issues.

At Mainline:

 Sims.aircanada.ca or ACaeronet > Safety > Submit a safety report/SIMS

  • Sign in using your Aeronet login credentials
  • In the report menu at the top right of the screen, scroll down and select the appropriate report.

 AC e-reporting app for iOS

  • On in-charge iPads
  • Downloadable for FA’s ACAeronet > IFS > ePub > Administrative Procedures > cabin mobility > iMenu

At Rouge:

 Follow e-reporting process as outlined in your PUB.

What is your Union doing?

Once you have filed an official report, please ensure to send a copy to the union to keep us in the loop.

Although things like customs metering may start out as unforeseen events, they rapidly become an ongoing and known issue. You shouldn’t have to choose between working exhausted and taking an “illegal” crew rest or losing credit hours because of an issue that’s well documented.

Various options are being explored. We will again be raising the fact with the Company that changes should be applied to duty days when on board with passengers in such circumstances. It’s the safe thing to do.

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee

National Day of Mourning 2022

Today is the National Day of Mourning for workers injured or killed in the course of their work duties.

In last year’s message, we drew your attention to the plight of Canadian workers who, in many cases, found themselves unsupported and improperly protected by governments in the face of an emerging biological threat.

But throughout the pandemic, more traditional struggles related to occupational health and safety persisted, often overshadowed, or even forgotten in the chaos caused by COVID-19. We mustn’t forget that safety in all respects of work is a fundamental right, and the duty of Canadian employers and workers to uphold it.

In Canada, approximately 1,000 worker deaths a year are recognized by governments and Workers’ Compensation Boards, and we know this is just the tip of the iceberg. In 2019, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 925 accepted workplace fatalities, and 271,806 accepted lost time claims in Canada.

These numbers represent only a fraction of the true toll, as we know many occupational illness, injuries and deaths are not included in workers compensation statistics. These numbers also don’t reflect the realities of the many worker fatalities and illnesses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As our union has said before, the best way to honour those lost to workplace injuries and illnesses, is to champion safety on the job. Be a part of the process, however frustrating it may seem. Raise awareness of hazards, however small.

Our Union has taken a page from lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be actively engaging the membership in new and exciting opportunities to learn about safety and get involved. Look forward to bulletins highlighting webinars and conferences and outreach initiatives.

Let’s continue to make safety our number one priority.

Click the following link to observe a minute of silence with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS):

https://youtu.be/FTC-jFSVbtg

In solidarity,

Your Air Canada Component of CUPE Health and Safety Committee

Recent Work Refusals

Yesterday a bulletin was issued from Jon Turner in regard to the recent work refusals titled: Transport Canada determines Direction is being complied with in regards to recent cabin crew ‘Right to Refuse Dangerous Work’.

As per the Canada Labour Code, danger means any hazard, condition or activity that could reasonably be expected to be an imminent or serious threat to the life or health of a person exposed to it before the hazard or condition can be corrected or the activity altered.  If you feel this is the case, you have the right to refuse, this has not been removed, and you cannot be disciplined or lose pay for exercising this right.  No one can prevent the exercising of this right except for a government safety investigator following an investigation, and no one should be encouraging you not to if you reasonably believe there is a danger.

There are currently 527 “unresolved” health and safety complaints logged by Cabin Crew, primarily dealing with COVID-19, ranging from concerns regarding mask compliance, to onboard service, to missing clean care kits.  This is a concern.

There were 5 work refusals at Air Canada Mainline and 3 work refusals at Air Canada Rouge, primarily related to onboard service, but also in regard to no potable water on board, mask compliance concerns and no safe places to eat on board.

This is all due to the fact we are seeing service return close to pre-pandemic levels.  The employer left off saying that they listen to our feedback, but what we have seen is that our voices have fallen on deaf ears with the Employer, Transport Canada and the Federal Government itself.  If everything we do is to be safety first, why is the employer not mitigating the risk, the risk that is there and has affected many crew to date. In a system where the employees are told safety reporting is of the utmost importance, how can the Company reasonably ignore hundreds of complaints from the people who know the workplace best?

We have seen countless Canadian, American and foreign carriers reduce services onboard.  This was done to “ensure the safety of both passengers and flight attendants”, as noted most recently by American Airlines.  We need the same strong position here as well, we need to see we are heard, and see that we are moving towards safer practices because we are valued and respected as employees.

Enough of you have reached out and followed the process outlined to ensure your safety concerns are logged, unfortunately they are not being actioned.

You did your part and got vaccinated, you used all your sick time to stay home and stay safe, you went through countless quarantine periods, countless calls with contact tracing, handed out card after card to ensure mask compliance, contacted your managers with issues of fatigue, stress, loneliness and isolation, and now, all we are asking for is to be regarded like everyone else in Canada, and reduce our contact in the workplace by reducing onboard service.

Your Union will be reaching out to lobby this further; we will ensure the message is delivered. At this time appeals are in the process of being filed related to the work refusals identified by the Company.

For the Union’s work refusal bulletin, you may send a blank email to rtr@accomponent.ca. Urgent non-emergency questions can be emailed to 247@accomponent.ca.

In Solidarity,