British Columbia’s transit worker union, Unifor, is calling for enhanced security on transit to enforce COVID-19 mask rules.
Unifor represents more than 6000 members at Translink and B.C. Transit across British Columbia, including Whistler, Squamish, Kamloops, Vernon, Campbell River, Courtenay, and Victoria.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias said drivers are responsible for the safe operation of the vehicles but not at the risk of their own health and safety.”
“Insufficient transit security and police presence has put drivers in the dangerous position of dealing with passengers who refuse to comply with public health regulations that require masks onboard public busses,” Dias said.
The British Columbia Office of the Public Health Officer has mandated that passengers must wear masks on public transit, with a $230 fine for those who refuse to comply or engage in abusive or belligerent behavior.
However, Unifor believes that penalties need to be enforced strictly so people take the orders seriously.
“The masks are there to protect everyone onboard, both passengers and drivers, but there have been instances where transit workers have faced verbal confrontation or risk of physical assault,” said Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle.
“This cannot be tolerated. An increased and more visible security presence would help to address the threat posed by anti-maskers who choose public transit as a venue to protest health regulations.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy.