Coronavirus Update 35

This is a COVID-19 catch-all bulletin. Should you have additional questions, please reach out to the Union by emailing contact@accomponent.ca so that we can further assist, and/or provide guidance, on the matter.

PPE, safety measures and the third wave
It is also proven that by adhering to many different mitigation measures, the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 goes down.

Remember that the variants are up to 70% more contagious than the COVID-19 we became used to in the first and second waves. Some of us may have engaged in activities at work or at home that went against recommendations and not had any health effects. But that doesn’t mean this was safe, and with the variants, it is much more likely you will get sick if recommended precautions aren’t taken.

At this time, it is particularly important to physically distance whenever possible, and especially at times when masks aren’t being worn. This means:

  • No group events, including photographs dinners or meeting in crew lounges..
  • Wearing eye protection when in the aisle, and masks at all times – including crew rest unit. A mask should really be worn unless you are in your hotel room or eating. PPE isn’t comfortable – it is designed to be functional. We understand that it is tiring and aggravating to wear a mask for hours on end and encourage crew to procure a company-provided 3-layer cloth mask which may be more comfortable in settings off-aircraft where physical distancing can be assured. These are available at the crew centres.
  • Wearing all other available PPE – not just the required components. Remember that company policy is that you can request as many items as required for your flight assignment.
  • Continuing to practice good hand hygiene.
  • Adhering to local regulations and staying in the hotel room as much as possible.

Mental Health
As the third wave continues to peak, we are acutely aware that many members are extremely anxious about exposure to the virus. It is important not to panic about the risks and hazard of COVID-19. Much about COVID-19 cannot be controlled. We urge members to view their PPE, physical distancing and adhering to all other recommended practices as a way to take charge.

The reality is that if we all do everything that’s recommended, it will feel more normal, and we will all be safer. Even if you don’t personally agree with PPE or certain measures, your colleagues will greatly appreciate and benefit from your act of solidarity adhering to them while at work. At a time when we have all had it with COVID for one reason or another, let’s support each other.

The Right to Refuse Dangerous Work and “opting out” of flight assignments:
The Union included a piece in its Coronavirus Update #34 specifically about the process to follow if you do not feel safe operating to a particular destination and want to “opt out”. Please view it HERE.

You can always view the Union’s bulletin on the right to refuse dangerous work by sending a blank email to rtr@accomponent.ca.

Mask Compliance
Many members have reported that they don’t report mask compliance. The reasons are consistent and understandable:

  1. Some feel it is impossible to file a disruptive/unruly passenger report for every instance.
  2. Some feel bad filing a report when the passenger eventually complied and was otherwise not disruptive.
  3. Some feel bad asking children to wear masks.

We wish to clarify:

  1. For minor cases where you achieved compliance or that did not escalate, it is highly preferable to report all cases in one report than to not file a report at all. Your health and safety committees have discussed this, and even minor non-compliance is having a significant effect on crews and it is essential the company have cases documented.
  2. Generally, only serious cases of non-compliance involving escalation to higher levels of interference are enforced by Transport Canada (TC). Mostly, this data is used by the company and TC to evaluate any difficulties you are facing onboard and adjust regulations and policies accordingly.
  3. Current regulations exempt children 0-2 years from wearing a mask. A child between 2 and 5 years is exempt if they cannot tolerate a mask, although parents must have masks on hand. Anyone aged 6 and over must comply with masking regulations.

See ePub > COVID-19 Tile > Face Covering Guidelines for full details and guidance regarding masking policies for crew and customers.

Remember that in compliance with public health guidance, all masking policies remain in effect for crew and passengers regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not – NO EXCEPTIONS.

Vaccines
We have received many questions from members about vaccines. Please know that it is the Union’s position that it ought to be made available as a priority to cabin crew, but that getting it should remain the choice of each member.

The company released a vaccination policy as of the 22APR21. Very little notice was provided to the Union for comment, and it was issued with no notice at all. It is being reviewed and appropriate action will be taken if necessary, to protect the rights of the membership.

CUPE National Health and Safety has created a detailed fact sheet on vaccinations which can be viewed HERE.

Airflow on the ground
The company implemented a policy in December 2020 (Epub > Service and Flight Guidelines – Covid-19) that flight crew are to turn on the auxiliary power unit (APU) as soon as possible when they board and keep it on until they leave the aircraft. This ensures cabin airflow per the standards above, and that air is routed through the HEPA filter.

But what happens if the pilots arrive late, or leave the aircraft before everyone has deplaned?

Until the APU is started, cabin air is supplied via a ground air conditioning unit hooked up to the plane (yellow hose usually connected to the bridge). And the airflow rate may vary depending on the equipment at each airport and how well it functions, for which the company may have little or no control. And reduced airflow means that some of the benefits cited about aircraft ventilation systems may not apply during a time when passengers are most active, in the aisles, and when physical distancing is most difficult.

Recently members have told the Union they are noticing the APU air isn’t on until late in boarding, and often shut off early during deplaning. Clearly the solution would be to ensure boarding only occurs when pilots are onboard, and that the APU remain in operation until all passengers have deplaned. Despite this, we aren’t receiving actual reports.

Reporting
It is crucial to submit a health and safety complaint about any suspected hazards to the company. This ensures that it is documented for statistical trending, investigated, and ultimately permits you to refer your complaint to the health and safety committee is the employer isn’t able to resolve it with you directly.

Many times during the pandemic, we have witnessed the power of good safety reporting. Now, in this third wave, members must redouble their efforts to not only talk about concerns, but file complaints about them to ensure something actually happens and that those concerns “exist” in the system!

A health and safety complaint can be filed on the iPad if you are an in-charge of via sims.aircanada.ca.

 

In Solidarity,