The Young Workers’ Committee of the B.C. Federation of Labour is holding an overnight sit-in Saturday, April 8, at Mac’s convenience stores in Vancouver and Victoria to demand the reinstatement of workplace safety protections for late night, convenience and gas station workers that were stripped down in 2012 by the provincial government.
The event, which has been held annually since 2012, marks the anniversary of the change to the legislation, commonly called Grant’s Law, after Grant De Patie, the 24-year old gas station worker who was killed in a tragic gas-and-dash in Maple Ridge in 2005.
The original law made British Columbia the first province in Canada to make drivers pay before they pump gas, and included provisions to add two workers or barriers for those who work retail graveyard shifts – an integral part of the legislation.
But rules meant to protect people working at night in British Columbia were changed in 2011 to allow gas station and convenience store clerks to work alone.
Instead of having two people on shift, convenience stores can 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.
WorkSafeBC found restrictions in Grant’s Law weren’t “practicable,” or feasible for retailers to hire additional workers or erect protective barriers.
“We are here to raise awareness of the dangers workers – mostly young people like Grant De Patie – face when working alone at night,” said Caitlin Davidson King, chair of the BCFED Young Workers’ Committee. “It has been five years since Christy Clark gutted Grant’s Law to weaken the requirements that keep workers safe. The changes are a mistake and have left workers to face violent incidents on their own and with little protection. Clark has chosen employers’ profit over workers’ safety, and we are calling attention to that shameful record.”
The BCFED is demanding Clark’s government to reinstate Grant’s Law and the requirement that two workers be on shift together, or to have a barrier in place to protect workers during late night hours.
This year’s events will take place in Vancouver and Victoria.