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Employers coalition seeks to dodge responsibilities to infected workers

June 13, 2020 - 3:00 AM

VANCOUVER—Unifor is calling on the provincial government to resist calls from employers to water down proposed changes to workers’ compensation that would see employers help to cover the costs associated with saving the lives of workers who contracted COVID-19 at work.

“These are the same forces that resisted responsibility for lung cancer and asbestos poisoning,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “COVID-19 is the latest in a long line of occupational diseases that employers wish to pretend has nothing to do with the workplace.”

The Employers’ Forum has written to Worksafe BC to urge it to reverse course on changes that would see employers share the cost of helping workers who contracted COVID-19 at work. Instead, the Forum proposes all costs be borne by the government.

“Employers have a responsibility to keep workers safe in the workplace. The consequence for failing to do so is shouldering costs associated with workplace injuries,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “You can’t have it both ways. Employers can’t publish warm and fuzzy statements about ‘COVID Heroes’ one day, and seek to undermine their workplace health and safety net the next.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Zoom/Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).