A few updates and items to report on.
The Local has been able to pressure a majority of our Employers to extend medical benefits during the crisis. We will continue to monitor the issue and see what else we can do on this front. Please contact your Service Representative if you have any questions regarding your particular unit.
I'm pleased to see that the provincial government has announced that the online application portal for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers program will be opening on May 1st, 2020. Check the provincial government website for more details: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/covid-19-financia...
We have been also encouraging Employers to utilize the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, and are optimistic that some of our units will start re-opening next month. The Local is mindful of the challenges that are on the horizon with the upcoming recall process. It is understandable that many will be anxious about returning to work, and our position is that the workplace must be safe if members are going to be recalled. And we are putting Employers on notice that we reserve the right to grieve any attempt to sever a member who declines recall on reasonable grounds. Would also encourage members to make sure their contact information is up to date with the Employer as we approach this stage.
Our current estimate is that thousands of Local 3000 members, approximately half of our membership, is on lay-off or forced leave right now. We have been working on measures to mitigate the financial impact on the Local given this significant loss of revenue. As part of these efforts, and in solidarity with the membership and the precariat, I am donating much of my salary to the Union during this crisis, and the other full-time officers of the Local are considering this as well. Thank you to our support staff Brenda who has volunteered to take some vacation time intermittently, when possible, which is deferred savings.
Lastly on the question of lay-offs, there is much debate over whether severance and compensation in lieu of lay-off notice is applicable at the moment. Some Employers are invoking Section 65 of the ESA, and claiming in a force majeure situation they are not legally liable. Would like to clarify that we are disputing this with Employers when the issue arises, and that the Local has not formally agreed to waive these rights in any unit. We will be monitoring this matter closely as the situation continues to unfold.
If you'd like to hear more about what Unifor has been doing during the crisis, I'd encourage you to go to unifor.org/covid19 where there is a copious amount of detailed information and resources on various topics.