Many of you have voiced concerns to the Union recently specifically about the transport of passengers connecting from carriers still operating to/from China.
The Union would like to raise awareness of the fact that the COVID-19 virus is NOT Chinese. It may have its origins in China; however, it is clearly an issue that is affecting populations worldwide – regardless of the semantics regarding the word pandemic. Xenophobic attitudes and concerns, while common in situations like these are not appropriate, nor in keeping with the Union’s ethical guidelines.
Passengers connecting from other carriers have been cleared through the established public health protocols. Furthermore, there is nothing stopping a passenger, once cleared to enter Canada, from purchasing a separate non-connecting ticket on a domestic flight. The Union recognizes the concerns of some members regarding screening processes; however, it doesn’t control, nor does it have much if any influence on the exit or entrance procedures of individual countries. Even the employer may have very limited influence or control over these.
Concerns about the employer’s specific actions should be addressed by means of a health and safety complaint e-report ACAeronet > Safety > Submit a report/SIMS at Mainline, or AQD at Rouge. This formalizes your concerns, enters them into the data base used by the company as well as your joint health and safety committees.
It is important to note that beyond questionnaires, mandatory onboard announcements, increased signage in border control facilities and heightened awareness of workers who are in contact with the public, little more in way of screening can be done. Testing for COVID-19 takes time and cannot be done in a boarding lounge. Temperature reading instruments, while widely employed at some destinations, have had their accuracy and usefulness questioned.
The Union calls on its members to focus their energy on areas that can, and will, make a meaningful and positive difference as we all navigate this public health crisis: stay home when sick; follow company procedures for suspected communicable diseases as per FAM/PUB chapter 6; know how and when to use your personal protective equipment; and be informed about/employ sound hygiene practices.
Diseases know no borders, aircraft or flight numbers. Proper precautions, practices and procedures related to communicable disease must be the norm every flight, always – not just when we see passengers connecting from a certain place or when flying to a certain destination. That is how we will protect one another onboard. That is how we will protect our colleagues working at airports. That is the critical role we will play in helping our healthcare system manage and control this virus.
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE