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OPINION – BCGEU applauds delayed return to office, calls for reinstatement of all layers of protection

Burnaby (BCGEU) – (Coast Salish Territories) – As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 looms in British Columbia, the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) applauds the Head of the BC Public Service for their decision to delay the date which public service workers are required to return to the office or have an approved telework agreement in place.
“Our union has been urging government since early in the pandemic that they need to continue with flexible work arrangements, until the province has moved to Step 4 – and today’s announcement is welcome news” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. “However, there are tens of thousands of workers who do not have the option of working from home and they deserve protections in their workplace.”
The BCGEU continues its call on the province’s Public Health Officer to reinstate all layers of protections – including a mask mandate in all indoor areas, physical distancing, and capacity limits – in all workplaces, of particular note in the liquor and cannabis retail stores of the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.
“As the busiest period of the holiday season approaches and members working in the retail stores are challenged to social distance,” said Smith “the mask mandate and capacity limits become more important than ever.”
Finally, the BCGEU is calling on the Public Health Officer to provide COVID-19 rapid tests to the B.C. public.
“Rapid testing is an additional tool that has become an essential part of the public health response to COVID-19 in jurisdictions around the world,” said Smith. “It should be made available to British Columbians as well.”

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