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Essential workers speak out on need for vaccination access and paid sick days

Unifor members demand: Vaccinate essential workers, paid time for vaccines, paid sick days.
April 14, 2021 - 12:00 AM

April 14, 2021

Essential workers are speaking out on the need for vaccination access and paid sick days to protect them from COVID-19, in a series of new videos of frontline Unifor members.

“These frontline workers are seeking priority vaccine access for workers who can’t stay home, such as grocery, warehouse, transit, airline and telecommunications workers, as COVID-19 case numbers skyrocket with the danger of more contagious variants,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Unifor’s ‘Prioritize Workers’ campaign has launched with the release of the first worker video  featuring Paula Hurley, a frontline ferry worker and member of Unifor Local 4285 in Nova Scotia.

“We would like to have some consistency with the vaccine rollout across the country and priority given to those essential frontline people who can’t work from home,” said Hurley.

Unifor is calling on provincial governments to expedite vaccination of all frontline workers who must attend their jobs in person, to reduce the risk to workers, their families and their communities. In addition to priority access to vaccines, paid time off is also required if workers need to receive their shots during work hours, as Saskatchewan has already legislated.  

The union is reiterating its demand for the upcoming federal budget to extend paid personal leave days to seven, with 14 paid personal leave days during public health emergencies. Provinces must also legislate paid sick days, both as a matter of sound health policy and as a human right.

“For low-income earners taking time off when feeling under the weather or waiting a few days for the results of a COVID-19 test becomes a choice between their health and putting food on the table,” said Dias. “The politicians who repeatedly deny workers the right to a sick day all have the ability to take one themselves but somehow think it’s justifiable and moral to dictate that those less fortunate should drag themselves to work healthy or not.”

To sign the ‘Prioritize Workers’ petition visit unifor.org/prioritizeworkers.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 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.

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype, Zoom or Facetime interview please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).