COVID concerns lead to work refusal at BWB

Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward. June 11. 2019 (BlackburnNews photo by Colin Gowdy)

Heightened concerns surrounding COVID-19 have led to staffing shortages at the Blue Water Bridge.

The Customs and Immigration Union said 11 members at the bridge have exercised their rights to refuse to work, under what the union called unsafe conditions.

They’ve been off the job since December 27, 2021, and a health and safety investigation is ongoing.

In an email to Sarnia News Today, Union Spokesman Pierre St.-Jacques said management has not followed up-to-date public health rules and instructed employees to report to the workplace who should have been in isolation.

He said other issues include management’s failure to report disabling injuries (lost time) to the labour program, failure to contact trace, keeping non-critical staff in the workplace, and the employer’s false claim that the work refusal has ended.

Around 25 of just over 200 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, as of late last week. Many of the cases are due to workplace exposure as the members had no other exposures other than working with positive co-workers.

Each positive traveller is currently required to report to secondary in order for an officer to gather their documents and contact the Public Health Agency of Canada (in person or via phone), which increases the number of officers dealing with positive travellers.