TORONTO, March 12, 2020 /CNW/ - No OPSEU leaders or staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but the union is closing all of its offices and postponing almost all meetings and events for at least two weeks. Staff have been directed to work from home in order to support efforts to halt the community spread of the virus.
"When lives are at stake, we have to act," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Public health officials say we have a pandemic on our hands, and that we all have an important role to play in stopping its spread before more people become critically ill or perish."
"As both a union and an employer, OPSEU is proud to take a leadership role in the fight to contain this deadly virus," said Thomas. "I'm calling on all of the employers we work with, including the provincial government, to join us in following the best advice of public health experts. Let workers who operationally are able to work from home do so. It is an exemplary way to support the work of our front-line health care heroes as they try to contain the spread of the virus."
"Workers should never have to shoulder the costs of a public health crisis like this, and none of OPSEU's workers will lose any pay or credit during this time," said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. "It's obviously a huge disruption and is going to have a financial impact. But as OPSEU's treasurer, I can tell you that we have been responsible in budgeting for emergencies like this."
Thomas said now is the time for workers and employers to put aside any ongoing disputes and join forces to support Premier Ford's morning comments.
"We are all in this together and by working together, we can get through this pandemic more quickly," Thomas said. "It's time for employers to collaborate with their workers and their workers' unions to make sure as few people as possible get sick.
"It's time to let people work from home when they can, increase sanitation, and ensure that everybody follows the protocols being developed by public health officials," said Thomas. "And it's time to reassure workers that they won't lose pay or credits for doing their part. It's time for collaboration and leadership, not conflict. Together we will prevail."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931