Overnight protests will take place at three convenience stores in B.C. on Friday to demand the province restore Grant’s Law to its original form.
The Employee Action and Rights Network and B.C. Federation of Labour have organized sit-ins targeting Mac’s Convenience Stores in Vancouver, Nanaimo and Victoria. They will begin Friday night and continue until 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
“The protests are to mark the one-year anniversary of the watering down of Grant’s Law,” said Stephen Von Sychowski with EARN.
Implemented in 2008, Grant’s Law made British Columbia the first province in Canada to make drivers pay before they pump gas.
The law initially included provisions to add two workers or barriers for those who work retail graveyard shifts – an integral part of the legislation for Grant De Patie’s family, which fought hard to implement Grant’s Law after he was killed in a gas-and-dash in Maple Ridge in 2005.
Last year, however, WorkSafeBC amended the regulations to allow employers a third option.
Instead of having two people on shift, convenience stores can now follow other safety procedures, including time-lock safes that can’t be opened during late night hours, video surveillance, as well as keeping limited amounts of cash and lottery tickets at hand.
In addition, employers are required to do regular security audits by a qualified and independent person to confirm that all the controls have been implemented.
Von Sychowski says those changes “gutted” Grant’s Law.
“There was an extensive lobby that took place headed up by Mac’s. They claimed it was ineffective and too expensive so they lobbied to get it removed,” he said.
“That’s why they are the target of the event.”
EARN and the B.C. Federation of Labour hopes the protests will capture the attention of politicians as the province heads to the polls May 14.
WorkSafeBC though has not plans to restore the regulations.
In fact, spokesperson Donna Freeman stresses that Grant’s Law remains intact.
Grant’s Law, that brought in 24-hour pay before you pump regulations, has not changed, she said.
Freeman added there was extensive public consultation done before and after Grant’s Law came into effect, with both employers and employees.
“So we have listened,” she said, adding the third option offered to employers still protects late-night workers.
“We feel it is as safe and option for an employer to choose, if they can’t do the other two.”