BCGEU raises concerns about violence in social assistance offices | National Union of Public and General Employees

BCGEU raises concerns about violence in social assistance offices

 Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) workers are being subjected to an increasing number of violent incidents on the job.  Incidents include death threats and rocks thrown through office windows.

Vancouver (29 May 2014)—Staff with the British Columbia Government and General Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) have been meeting with the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) to ensure that a plan be in place for this week’s cheque issue. The BCGEU has requested that security guards be stationed at all MSDSI cheque-issuing offices.

MSDSI workers have reported an increasing number of violent incidents at their offices. Incidents include death threats and rocks thrown through office windows.

Right to refuse unsafe work

In light of recent problems with the Integrated Case Management system and as it is a cheque-issue week, the BCGEU/NUPGE is reminding workers of their right to refuse unsafe work.

Workers are told that if they have reasonable cause to believe there is a risk to their safety, they should refuse to work.

They should immediately report the concern to a supervisor. The supervisor must immediately investigate and determine whether or not there is a risk. If the supervisor disagrees with the refusal to work, the member has the right to bring in a member of the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee or a union steward to participate in further investigation.

Next step if problem unresolved

If the problem remains unresolved, either party must call a Workers' Compensation Board of B.C. (WCB) safety officer, who will conduct a workplace inspection and write orders he or she determines are necessary. Workers must return to work if ordered to do so by a WCB officer.

What should members do if there is a violent workplace incident? Immediately remove themselves and get help! Report it to their supervisor, the OH&S committee and their union steward. Follow the emergency response pla,n which may include calling 911 for police assistance.

The BCGEU/NUPGE has asked the Ministry to provide ongoing reports of all incidents of workplace violence.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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