The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – a labour union representing grocery workers in North America – is calling on British Columbia’s provincial health officer to mandate masks in all grocery stores and retail outlets.
In an open letter written to B.C.’s top doctor, the UFCW called the current health safety protocols a “double standard,” as workers are currently required to wear masks while customers are not.
The letter, written by UFCW local president Kim Novak, outlines that there is an expectation that workers are being safe around customers, but not the other way around.
“These policies contravene WorkSafe rules, which ensure workers an expectation of safety while on the job,” writes Novak.
The UFCW urges Dr. Henry to take action as COVID-19 cases surge across the province. As of Wednesday, British Columbia has recorded eight straight days of over 200 COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Bonnie Henry has declared that British Columbia has entered the second wave of the virus and the union representing grocery workers stresses the heightened risk of shoppers spreading the virus to employees.
“We ask you to mandate that shoppers wear masks while indoors in order to protect retail workers and slow the spread of COVID-19 transmission. These workers have stepped up for their communities. Now it is time that their government do what is necessary to keep them safe,” says Novak in the letter.
Masks are currently not mandated in British Columbia, however, Dr. Henry said earlier this week that face coverings are “expected” in public places.
Some private businesses, including Starbucks, have made masks mandatory for customers and the BC Government has been requiring passengers to wear face coverings on transit vehicles since August.
“Mandating mask-wearing while shopping is a simple and effective measure that is consistent with softer asks that the government has already made of the public. It is a fair ask in return for being required to wear masks all day at work,” concludes Novak in the UFCW letter.
The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers across Canada and the United States.
A copy of the letter sent to CHEK News can be viewed here: 201027-BH-Letter-Masks