Many of our Mainline and Rouge members have reached out over the last few days with concerns about the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus. As you know, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and it has taken some time to prepare this bulletin as the information has continually been updated with communication and calls with Air Canada Labour.
• Extra gloves, sanitizer wipes, and surgical masks are being boarded on flights and you are permitted to use your PPE as needed in all classes of service.
o Some employees may prefer to use their own N95 mask, which may provide some benefits in terms of fit, which can affect protection. (see CUPE fact sheet on respiratory protection)
• Hand sanitizer bottles are being provisioned in the crew centres for you to take.
• Remember that eye-shields are available in the UPK kits. This can protect your eyes in the event you must engage in prolonged close contact with an ill passenger.
• Frequent hand-washing with warm water remains the most effective way to prevent illness.
• Remember that PPE is only as good as your hygiene habits:
o Gloves must be removed and disposed of properly. Touching your face with gloves is as bad as with bare hands. You should wash your hands after removal.
o Masks should not be re-used once removed.
• Please review your suspected communicable disease section from your FAM/PUB chapter 6.
• Please remain aware and review your globe bulletins.
What has the Union been doing?
Over the past week your Component Health & Safety team and executive have:
• As a result of your comments, we have advocated for more onboard tools as well as information about what actions are being taken by each department to protect employees. We believe that is important, since it is one of our members’ three fundamental rights to know. This was provided in company Update#2, and extra supplies have been boarded on flights to China for the past three days.
• Also, as a result of your comments, we have advocated for greater information about what the company is doing to protect its employees, its plans and about the virus itself. The company began this discussion in Update#3 posted on 23JAN20 which also included external links.
• Met on 24JAN20 with corporate safety to discuss the company’s actions so far, inquire about their third-party advisory service and to outline a need for greater dialogue and updates from the company, in order to best represent you. As of 24JAN20 the Policy Committee will be holding daily calls, including weekends, where your representatives will be provided the latest updates and have an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback to the employer.
• The Union Health & Safety committee has been in contact with ACPA, as in many cases the one-crew concept and CRM may be required in order to address onboard concerns. It is best that both our groups are on the same page.
• The Union has also been in touch with our American counterparts to exchange resources.
Things the Union continues to pursue:
• Options for service which could further reduce potential exposure to our members.
• Re-enforcement and reminders of procedures for communicable diseases, ideally in briefings.
• Re-enforcement and reminders of proper use of protective equipment, ideally in briefings.
What can you do?
If you or your colleagues have concerns about operating, the best place to start is to remain informed about the virus:
• CUPE National Health and Safety has developed a general fact sheet aimed at its general 600K+ membership. You can access it by clicking HERE.
• The New York Times has some excellent objective reporting. www.nyt.com
• The World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/novel-coronavirus .
• The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html .
• The Public Health Agency of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html
• Global Affairs Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories/pneumonia-china?_ga=2.260947853.1094428749.1578423601-32662530.1555003301
Know the tools that you already have at your disposal. Many members have expressed frustration at not having things which are actually present onboard or exist in our procedures:
• UPK Kit: includes a Face shield to protect your eyes during prolonged close contact with an ill passenger.
• Glycerine soap – useful when lavs are occupied and doesn’t dry out your skin.
• Gloves for pickup (extra on China flights)
• Surgical masks (also important for use on ill passengers – extra on China flights)
• Ability to wear you own mask, or a company mask (see CUPE fact sheet on respiratory protection)
• Access to StatMD for guidance
• Procedures for dealing with Suspected Communicable Disease FAM/PUB Chapter 6.
What if you don’t feel comfortable operating?
If you don’t feel comfortable operating the company has been very good at addressing concerns of employees on a case-by-case basis. You should call crew scheduling and explain that you have concerns about operating your flight due to Wuhan Coronavirus. You may be referred to speak with your safety manager in order to arrange alternate duties – This is normal.
Should they not be resolved, every employee always has their individual right to refuse dangerous work, as referenced as the end of chapter 2 in the FAM and in the Union’s bulletin which can be access by emailing email@example.com.
Write to the Union and Report to the company!
We are committed to representing you but can’t do it alone. As we will be speaking to the company on a daily basis, your comments, questions and concerns will be that much more important over the coming days.
We cannot stress the importance of communicating your concerns, questions and frustrations directly to the union by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, but also by filing a health and safety complaint with the company (ACAeronet > safety > submit a report/SIMS at mainline or in AQD at Rouge). This is very important as it enters the concern into the company’s health & safety database and stats used by both management and your health and safety committees.
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE