In 2016, a number of employees with the Vehicle Transportation and Inspection Division (Employer) brought workplace safety concerns to our attention.
We held meetings across the province to hear concerns and educate members on their rights and responsibilities pursuant to the Occupational Health & Safety Act.
At a meeting on May 5, 2016, we shared this same information with the employer’s management team. During this meeting, we requested the employer conduct a violence in the workplace risk assessment and that the same assessment be completed by a qualified, independent and subject matter expert who had authorization and access to sensitive and confidential data when assessing the risk of violence in terms of severity and probability. We further communicated to the employer that without this information, an assessment team would not be able to make any educated and informed decisions as it relates to what safety controls, if any, are needed to adequately mitigate the risk of violence to the employees. Union staff in attendance were left with the impression that the employer’s management team had considered the employee’s concerns.
Following this meeting, the employer advised us that they would conduct an assessment largely due to being out of compliance with Section 6 of the Violence in the Workplace Regulations. In good faith, and in consultation with a number of employees, we held off any further action until the assessment was completed. Unfortunately, due to the responses provided by the employer on March 22, 2017, the Union, as requested by the employees, has filed a formal group grievance. This grievance is essentially asking the employer to ensure:
In agreement with the union, secure a qualified, independent and subject matter expert(s) to conduct a violence in the workplace assessment specific to the Vehicle Transportation and Inspection Division. Furthermore, for this expert to have authorization and access to information from other jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies who use other safety controls, such as training and equipment, and the justification for same.
As a means of communicating the grievance process, we plan on hosting information sessions:
- VTI Staff reporting to Regional Manager Cameron – Sydney NSGEU Office;
- VTI Staff reporting to Regional Manager Turner – Dartmouth NSGEU Office;
- VTI Staff reporting to Regional Manager Barron – Amherst Super 8 Hotel.
Once confirmed, meeting dates/time will be provided. Please watch your email for further information.
At these meetings, we will also be able to address other concerns raised by members including that the above mentioned grievance was motivated by the idea of the issuance of side arms and position reclassification.
To clarify: it has never been identified to the Union or by the Union that employees require side arms as a risk mitigation tool.
Our goal has been to have an adequate violence in the workplace assessment completed that will advise the employees, the employer, and the Union on what is needed to mitigate the risk of violence in the workplace.
Furthermore, during this long period of time, there was only one inquiry of position reclassification brought forward to the Union. These discussions did not in any way capture possible new safety controls that may be identified as a result of the violence in the workplace assessment.
With this in mind, should any member have any questions or concerns, please contact us and ask to speak to your Employee Relations Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free at 1-877-556-7438.