“I was surprised and appalled,” said the employee, who has been with the company for over 10 years and whose CBC identity News has agreed to remain confidential for fear of retaliation. “It was like we didn’t matter. “
In April, British Columbia amended its employment standards law to offer workers up to three hours of paid leave to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Shaw and other telecommunications companies, however, are federally regulated, highlighting a discrepancy in how provincial and federal agencies have supported workers as part of the national immunization campaign.
Employee and his union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 213, say Shaw told workers provincial changes “don’t apply” to employees and that they would have to use personal leave if they wanted to be vaccinated during working hours.
“We contacted Shaw on several occasions and were told the same thing – that members could use their own personal leave to get vaccinated,” said Robin Nedila, IBEW 213 Deputy Commercial Director. “It really is shameful. “
Shaw confirms that employees who wish to be vaccinated during working hours have been instructed to use personal days, depending on what their schedule allows.
“Shaw offers all employees the opportunity to take time out of their workday to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, as long as their role permits,” Shaw spokesperson Chethan Lakshman wrote.
“If an employee is in a position that does not offer the flexibility to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during their normal working hours, employees can use personal days, which are separate from vacation and designed to support necessary time off. for medical reasons. and / or personal obligations. “
By comparison, a staff representative of the United Steelworkers, Local 1944, which represents both Shaw and Telus workers in British Columbia, confirms that Telus gives workers three hours of paid leave, provided they can provide proof of vaccination.
The anonymous employee, who received his first dose and visits six or more locations every shift – including homes, doctor’s offices and retail spaces – says the policy has served as a barrier to Shaw’s staff, delaying some getting vaccinated, and completely discouraging others.
“We were offered to use our own personal days or sick leave to [get vaccinated] but we have these days and this time for other reasons, ”he said.
Calls for change
But while the policy gap remains in place, at least one local MP believes there is a quick fix, if Ottawa is interested.
“The federal government could easily amend the Canada Labor Code or issue an Order in Council,” said federal health critic Don Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver-Kingsway.
Davies says he wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government on May 19 to express his concerns, but has not received a response.
Labor Minister Filomena Tassi told CBC News she was “concerned” about the news and that her department “was working closely with organizations representing federally regulated employers” – encouraging “employers to accommodate employees ”.
Nedila and IBEW 213 say they want to see more from Tassi’s office.
“We hope that all federally regulated workers and, more specifically, all Shaw employees around the world, will have three hours to get the vaccine,” Nedila said.