New Contact Tracing Procedures
The company issued a bulletin on Thursday March 11th announcing changes to the contact tracing process. These changes were brought to the Union’s attention on February 26th with no warning. It is important the membership know that the Union strongly raised the fact that variants of concern are on the rise and that in our opinion this is not the time to remove protections. As much as mandatory releases rendered a certain hardship for our membership, it was unequivocally the safest path to take amidst the second wave of this pandemic and facing a third wave at many of the destinations we serve. The additional option to test and return to work after 5 days as implemented last October also greatly alleviated the burden on many of our members, striking a balance of sorts.
Please know that this was the company’s decision. Once informed about it we worked tirelessly to inform ourselves and seek modifications to ensure the highest possible level of safety for all our crews. There is, however, no way of painting this change as an increase or even a maintenance of the level of safety previously enjoyed by the front-line workers of IFS. It is, in effect, a calculated risk on the part of the employer.
We remind our members that under the Canada Labour Code Part II it is the employer’s duty to ensure the safety of its workers, but also the duty and right of the workers to report potential hazards or violations to the Code. Should you feel that there is a hazard, please file a health and safety complaint e-report by going to sims.aircanada.ca.
Have you contracted COVID at work, abroad or from an unknown location
Please ensure you reply to this email, advise Name, Employee Number and any information on your COVID positive status. The Union does not get specifics from the employer, so we are not able to get factual data on the spread of COVID-19 through the workplace or how its affecting our members. This information is STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL and only used for data purposes and to ensure your Union is doing all it can on combatting the exposure risks. We are here to support you. Your Local Health and Safety Chairs, Component Health and Safety Chair and Component President review COVID issues 7 days a week to ensure we reach out where required, and when there is a spike in flights we can review with members as the concerns come in. We are one year in, and believe there to be more information out there from the members that would allow us to do our part in tracing the How, When, Where and Why’s with COVID exposure.
Effective immediately, the company in consultation with the health and safety committees and experts is strongly recommending the use of protective eyewear or faceshield while at work. Transmission of COVID-19 is widely acknowledged to transmit by droplets of various sizes as well as aerosols. By wearing eye protection, you not only reduce the risk of contracting the virus from droplets to the eye, but also from unintentionally touching your eyes with dirty hands.
Protective safety glasses, disposable side-guards for prescription lenses, as well as face shields are available at your crew centre.
At this time the Union recommends using ALL protective equipment and reminds its members that they are permitted to take as many items as required for their flight assignments. Please let the Union know if there are any difficulties with this.
Instructions on PPE as well as guidance for mask compliance onboard can be found in ePub under the COVID-19 Tile.
14-day Quarantine Exemption Update
A reminder to members that there are important duties tied to the 14-day quarantine exemption for aircrew. These are not optional, and we have been advised by the PHAC that enforcement and verification is possible and has potential to result in significant fines and imprisonment for non-compliance:
- Wear a mask that a screening officer or quarantine officer considers suitable to minimize the risk of introducing or spreading COVID-19 when they are in public settings, including when entering Canada; and
- Maintain a list of the names and contact information of each person with whom the person came into close contact and the locations visited during the 14-day period. Close contact includes persons with whom you have been within 2metres for a cumulative period of 15 minutes or more within 24hrs. It may also include but isn’t limited to persons with whom you have engaged in higher risk activities such as physical activity, sharing an indoor space, or with whom basic recommended precautions may not have been followed (eg. masking).
Work Refusal Update
In the 11FEB2021 issue of the IFS News, the company advised of a change in process for employees who have concerns about operating to certain destinations. The process, as outlined was that when advised by an employee, crew scheduling would offer a leave of absence subject to availability, or, if not, the scheduler would guide the employee to a manager capable of continuing the discussion. This was discussed with the Union on the understanding that workers would never be penalized for concerns related to health and safety and that their concerns would be readily addressed with the company and properly documented.
This is not what has transpired based on your feedback.
To date, some employees who advised scheduling of concerns have seen their pairings removed from their schedules and have been assigned unavailable for duty with fault. They have not been transferred to a manager capable of handling their safety and health related concerns, but instead told they will have to go find and speak to a manager on their own time. Furthermore, there has been a lack of appropriate record-keeping, which has created a “they said this, they said that” scenario. The result has been members who have seen their assignments removed, a potential disciplinary code added to their schedule and no follow-up to their health and safety concerns.
In order to ensure that our members health and safety rights are properly respected the Union strongly advises its members of the following if they have concerns related to a destination or flight that touch on health and safety:
- Crew scheduling is not tasked with safety and is not able or equipped to process health and safety complaints/concerns.
- File a general health and safety complaint e-report ahead of time, if possible. This guarantees that your concern is properly documented in the company’s safety database and your representatives are copied. It also ensures your assignment isn’t arbitrarily removed from your schedule prior to having a chance to resolve your concern with a manager.
- Should you not receive a response to your health and safety complaint prior to duty report time or should your concern not be addressed, prepare for work as expected and raise your concerns at the workplace upon check-in at the correct time citing your previous report if applicable. Please note, you do not have to file a report first, you always have the right to raise your concern once you have checked in, and it must be addressed.
If you are at all put in an uncomfortable position by following the above, please reach out to the Union immediately, 24/7 through 1-866-758-3037 or email email@example.com and someone will get back to you in a timely manner.
The Union reminds its members that it is their duty to report any potential hazards to the employer, but also their right for these potential hazards to be addressed. Information about the right to refuse dangerous work can be found at the end of chapter 2 in the FAM, and/or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have seen a large increase in the COVID positive passengers on flights to/from Delhi, and remind all crew to ensure you are wearing your FULL PPE.