Delay on safety vests for front-line inspectors "inexcusable"

TORONTO, Nov. 27 /CNW/ - A delay in providing safety vests for front-line Ministry of Revenue tobacco inspectors is inexcusable and completely avoidable, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

The Ministry agreed to provide the vests in July after concerns were raised by the inspectors, but continued delays are frustrating staff who only want to be able to do their job safely.

Moira Cowan, Vice-Chair of OPSEU's Ministry of Revenue Employee Relations Committee and one of the affected inspectors, says that they find themselves in many volatile situations while performing their work in the community.

"The latest reports show that over half the tobacco sold in Ontario is illegal," Cowan said. "People selling these products stand to make a lot of money in profits, and don't react well when our uniformed officers arrive for an inspection. We have been in a lot of situations where violence is a real threat, and we have to have the same protective equipment other law enforcement officers have."

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding that the Ministry of Revenue stop making excuses and protect their workers before one of his members is injured...or worse.

"The Ministry keeps saying there is a delay with the vest manufacturer, but that excuse is flimsy at best," Thomas said. "How can it take five months to get a safety vest? The Ministry is now saying they might get them in December. Surely there must be two dozen vests somewhere to protect these inspectors. The Ministry needs to stop stalling and deliver them immediately."


For further information: For further information: Don Ford, OPSEU Communications, (416) 448-7442

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