(COVID-19) Letter from Jerry Dias

Dear local unions:

We know you have been following the day-to-day developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in our country and all over the world. We are seeing the impact on workers and their families and we would like to update you on a number of measures and actions being undertaken by your national union.

First, we want to ensure the well-being of Unifor members and staff as we build our plan to navigate this pandemic. We are concerned about the health and safety and livelihoods of our members and of all workers across Canada, and we believe that we have a role to play in curbing the spread of this pandemic.

In the past few weeks, we have written to the Government of Canada recommending changes to Employment Insurance provisions, some of which were implemented this week. We are still calling on all governments to implement 14 paid sick days for those workers who are quarantined or in self-isolation. You can see our other demands for governments here.

Unifor is monitoring the impact of the pandemic across sectors and workplaces of our union and as a result our demands to protect workers will likely grow.

Our union has made some decisions and we are taking the following actions:

Unifor offices will be closed from March 13 to March 17 to give us time to develop our plan and ensure the health and safety of our staff. Our staff will be working from home during this time, and will receive further notice on next steps after this period.

  • The following meetings have been cancelled until further notice:
    • NEB Meeting – March 30 – April 3
    • Federal Lobby – March 22 – 27
    • Unifor Family Education Centre Programs – March 16-27
    • Area Schools –Until April 30
    • Recreational events until April 30
    • Quebec Council from April 28 to May 1

We are currently conducting risk assessments for the following events and items:

  • Domestic or international flights for Unifor business or personal travel
  • Upcoming conferences and events
  • Membership meetings
  • Prairie Regional Council

We are encouraging local unions to think through upcoming activities, and to take the following actions:

Conduct a risk assessment for all upcoming events, executive or membership meetings and planned activities to determine if the event should go ahead. If the activity involves in-person gatherings, we encourage you to explore alternative methods of meeting or to consider canceling the event.

Monitor the impact of the pandemic on the health, safety and employment conditions of your members. We are preparing specific guidelines and information for workers in the health care, long-term care, airlines, hospitality and gaming and other impacted and at-risk sectors, but we know that all sectors will deal with some issues relating to the pandemic.

Stay tuned for updates by regularly visiting www.unifor.org/covid19. We will be posting news, resources, and statements to governments and/or employers as they become available. In addition, please note that many provinces including Quebec and British Columbia have issued travel advisories and Ontario has closed schools for three weeks. It’s important to check with provincial government websites for the latest information.

Check in with your national representatives for upcoming bargaining meetings, strike or lock-out deadlines, ratification meetings and other activity relating to ongoing bargaining.

The above guidelines will be in effect until March 30 and further communication and updates will be distributed as needed.

We know that the situation is evolving and that it may be difficult to plan ahead. We want to express to our local unions that we are here to support you, to demand protections for working people, and to work with you in the challenges that will confront us in the coming weeks. We want to support our members and the broader Unifor community through this pandemic and we want to create conditions under which everyone can remain safe and healthy.

We are asking you to communicate with the following contacts to help track our activities, and to share questions, concerns, reports, or suggestions: Lana Payne (lana.payne@unifor.org) or Renaud Plante (Renaud.Plante@unifor.org) in Québec.

In solidarity,

Jerry Dias
National President
Lana Payne
National Secretary-Treasurer
Renaud Gagné
Quebec Director


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