SFL STATEMENT Update from the Saskatchewan Federation of labour on COVID-19

 

STATEMENT

March 19, 2020

Update from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour on COVID-19

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) has been monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic,

and government response, and would like to share an update. Our working members are on the

frontlines of this pandemic. From hospitals to grocery stores, every worker has been impacted

by COVID-19. We would like to thank our affiliated unions, members, and all workers for their

service in this time of anxiety and uncertainty.

  1. SFL Operations

Your federation of labour continues to work on your behalf during this important time. We

have postponed all in-person meetings, and are meeting via conference call or video

conferencing to talk about urgent matters only. Our members and affiliated unions are focused

on serving the people of Saskatchewan, and we are doing our best to make sure that’s where

the focus Is.

 

Staff at the federation of labour continue to work and provide valuable services, but they are

doing so remotely -- with minimal presence in the office for such things as checking the mail,

and locating important files.

 

Our president, Lori Johb, and SFL staff are in constant contact with union leaders, frontline

workers, decision-makers, and members of the media. Communication is key; please do not

hesitate in emailing or phoning us.

  1. What Workers and Their Families Need

On March 12th, when Saskatchewan confirmed its first presumptive case of COVID-19 and

people were encouraged to self-isolate if they had recently travelled, the federation of labour

issued a news release calling on the provincial government to immediately pass a law

guaranteeing at least 14 paid sick days for Saskatchewan workers. Our president, Lori Johb, said

at the time: “Saskatchewan now has its first presumptive case of COVID-19. For containment

measures to be effective, workers need access to paid sick days. The provincial government

must move swiftly to pass a law guaranteeing at least 14 paid sick days so people can take time

off work during quarantine procedures to slow the spread of COVID- 19.”

While our members and the public supported our calls for paid sick days, the

provincial government did not respond.

 

On March 16th, leading up to the provincial budget, the federation of labour called on the

Government of Saskatchewan to use its budget as an opportunity to put forward an economic

plan for workers and the public.
 

Your federation of labour called for these items to be included in such a plan:

• Guarantee paid leave for workers who must self-isolate;

• Legislate at least 14 days of paid sick days for all workers;

• Ensure all workers are compensated for lost wages if their workplaces have closed due

   to COVID-19;

• Inject funding into all public services and facilities to ensure workers are well-equipped

   to tackle increased demands from COVID-19;

• Cease all late payment and interest charges on utility bills for people self-isolating;

• Immediately cease all internet and phone cut-offs for people self-isolating;

• Develop, and provide funding for, a plan to ensure workers are compensated for lost

   wages that could come from caring for children in the event of childcare and school

   closures.

 

While the provincial government eventually made the overdue decision to legislate unpaid sick

leave, and waive the requirement for workers to provide a doctor’s note, it simply was not

enough to effectively deal with this crisis.

 

The federal government has put in place a number of measures that will help workers and

families impacted by COVID-19, but we need to see more leadership from our provincial

government.

 

You can help by emailing the premier and telling him that for self-isolation measures to be

effective, workers need access to paid quarantine leave and at least 14 paid sick days:

premier@gov.sk.ca

 

3. Resources and Links


Federal Resources

• Update on the current situation and Federal Government response: Coronavirus disease

   (COVID-19): Outbreak update

• Information on Federal short and long term financial assistance for Canadians:

   https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-responseplan.

   html#individual

• Applying for EI: Anyone looking to apply for the new EI benefits, can visit the

  Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) website and follow the five steps.

  Link: Application for Employment Insurance benefits online - Canada.ca

 

Workers can also now have the one-week waiting period waived by calling
1-833-381- 2725.

• Federal Government social distancing procedure: Social Distancing (infographic)

Provincial Resources

• Self-assessment tool: COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool | COVID-19

• If you believe you may have COVID 19 you will be required to get a referral to a testing

center.

Referral Providers

- Healthline 811 (Call 811)

- Your local public health office: Public Health Offices | Public Health

- Your family doctor

• Latest provincial updates: Latest Updates | COVID-19

• Report unnecessarily unsafe work during COVID 19: 1-800-567-7233

4. Tips for Locals and Local Executives

Many locals may have already received guidance and advice for how to operate during the

COVID-19 pandemic. If you have, follow that advice. However, several locals and unions have

reached out to the federation of labour for tips. Below are some general tips for how you might

be able to operate during this time:
 

• Teleconferencing and Video Conferencing
 

Where feasible, meetings may be conducted electronically via conference calls, telephone town

halls, or video conferencing. We advise locals to explore available electronic meeting platforms.

Zoom video conferencing: https://zoom.us/ (email a.gordon@sfl.sk.ca for our Zoom manual)
 

• Electronic Voting
 

When adopting motions to conduct the regular business of the union, such as for decisions of

the executive board or executive committee, voting can be done via email.
 

Where voting must be secret, such as ratifications or job action mandates, and where votes

cannot be delayed, locals can explore the possibility of using a secure and reliable electronic

voting platform. Remember that some votes are also governed by labour legislation.
 

• Nominations and Elections
 

If possible, local elections should occur within your regular timeframe. Perhaps nominations

that might normally occur at a membership meeting can be done by email, and elections can be

conducted electronically using a secure platform.

If maintaining the existing timeframe is not feasible, it’s possible the elections process may be

delayed. Consult your bylaws or provincial/national union office for additional guidance.
 

• Postponing Meetings

Where it is not possible to hold a meeting and remote solutions are not feasible, local meetings

may have to be postponed. Consult your bylaws or provincial/national union office for

additional guidance.

• Opportunities

While there are many other issues facing our unions and members right now, we encourage

you to consider the challenges you might be having communicating with your members outside

of the workplace. Consider using this opportunity to collect and compile contact information for

your members. This may also be a good time to review your local’s decision making and

election processes and note possible future bylaw changes.

• Other Issues and Exemptions

Bylaws and constitutions vary widely from one union to the next, and these guidelines will not

address every variable. For issues not contemplated here, consult your provincial/national

union office for additional guidance.

                                                   

Saskatchewan's Labour Movement: the folks who brought you the constitutional right to strike!