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Improve safety and staffing at Waterville Facility: says NSGEU President

Halifax – Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union (NSGEU) President, Jason MacLean is calling on the government to improve safety and staffing at the Waterville Youth Facility in the wake of a violent attack on youth workers.

On Sunday night, five youth workers were attacked by offenders at the Waterville Youth Facility and four had to be taken to hospital. One of the workers was attacked and when fellow coworkers came to help, they were rushed and beaten by youth offenders who were able to open the doors in their rooms at the same time in a coordinated way.

“Youth workers should not fear for their lives when they go to work,” says Jason MacLean, President of the NSGEU. “The health and safety of the women and men who work in the facility should be the priority of the employer and we have reached out to them looking for answers.”

“What we would like to see is a thorough debriefing and consultation following this violent workplace incident with recommendations and timelines for improving safety at the facility as soon as possible,” says MacLean. “This would include training and enhancement of the Health and Safety Committee.” “Over the years, there has been a steady escalation of violent offenders at Waterville as well as a slow deterioration of safety procedures and a decline in the number of staff. This has to stop. ”

“I commend the members at work on Sunday night for coming to the aid of their co-worker who was attacked and it is upsetting to hear about the injuries sustained by our members,” says MacLean. “We are hoping for their full recovery and healing, but the reality is these violent attacks often can have lasting effects, both physical and psychological. Our members who are continuing to go to work are feeling vulnerable and understandably nervous and we are looking for improvements to health & safety procedures going forward.”

President MacLean along with NSGEU’s Health & Safety Officer and other staff will be meeting with members who work at Waterville on Thursday, Sept. 8 to hear from them and offer their support.  The NSGEU represents youth workers at Waterville Youth Facility, members of NSGEU Local 4.

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