[Mar. 18] GSU RESPONSE TO COVID-19: Correspondence with your employers, employer responses, and GSU office operations

March 18, 2020

TO: GSU Members

RE:  GSU’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

I am writing to update GSU members in relation to steps we are taking to address the rapidly unfolding COVID-19 crisis.

On March 16 GSU representatives wrote to your employers to stress the need for occupational health and safety measures to prevent COVID-19 virus exposure or spread in the workplace.

In addition, since the COVID-19 virus crisis is extraordinary and dynamic GSU is urging employers to address income protection measures for employees who unable to report for work as a result of their own health related concerns and/or child care and family care responsibilities stemming from the COVID-19 virus and related public health directives.

This is a complex societal problem requiring exceptional measures and GSU is willing to work with your employers to ensure that the health and safety of employees and the community are protected.

GSU proposed the following to employers.

1.       Where possible employees should be enabled to work from home without loss of pay or benefits.

2.      Employees whose work cannot be fulfilled remotely should be assured that the maximum workplace health and safety protective measures are in place and are clearly communicated.

3.      Employees who are required to be absent from work as a result of health concerns and/or family care responsibilities should be able to respond to those concerns and responsibilities without loss of pay or benefits and should not be required to provide physicians’ notes.

4.      Employees who are advised not to report for work or are sent home as a result of curtailment or shutdown of operations should not suffer any loss of pay or benefits.

GSU realizes that the response to the COVID-19 virus requires socially responsible and unified actions. GSU also recognizes that employer responses will vary depending on the income protection measures available in each of the collective agreements covering union members. To date we have received a number of written replies from employers. Other employers such as Viterra Inc. and Advance Tank Production Ltd. have followed by phone with their initial responses to the measures and issues raised by GSU. We are compiling, reviewing, and seeking clarification as required to all responses as they will serve as a guide as we assist GSU members.

We will continue to communicate with employer representatives to address employee concerns. Our collective response to this crisis requires trust and we assure you that we will work in good faith with you and your employers.

GSU Office Operations

Until further notice all GSU meetings as well as in-person contacts will be suspended and GSU’s offices will also be closed. All essential GSU office and representation functions will be handled remotely and all staff will be working from home. We will be able to respond to all phone and email inquiries and ask for your patience. If you call or email GSU please include the best way to contact you. Contact information for GSU staff is available on the web page at gsu.ca.

These are extraordinary times and GSU will do its best to inform and support union members and their families. Please watch our web page, your Tuesday Members’ Memos and your email for updates.


Hugh Wagner  
General Secretary