Employees are staging overnight sit-ins at Vancouver and Victoria convenience stores Saturday night, demanding the reinstatement of workplace safety protections that were removed from legislation in 2012.
In its fifth year, the sit-in has been hosted annually by members of the Young Workers’ Committee of the BC Federation of Labour.
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Before 2012, the legislation commonly known as Grant’s Law required employers to schedule two staff during graveyard shifts (around 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.).
Grant’s Law was implemented after 24-year-old Grant De Patie was killed in a gas-n-dash incident in Maple Ridge in 2005.
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It made British Columbia the first province in Canada to make drivers pay before they pump gas.
But in 2012, WorkSafeBC announced amendments, claiming it wasn’t “practicable,” or feasible, for retailers to hire additional workers or erect protective barriers.
Now, 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.
The intention of Saturday’s sit-in is to raise awareness of the dangers workers face when working alone, said the committee’s chairperson Caitlin Davison King in a press release.
“It has been five years since Christy Clark gutted Grant’s Law to weaken the requirements that keep workers safe,” King said. “The changes are a mistake and have left workers to face violent incidents on their own and with little protection.”
Both events start at 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., at the Mac’s Convenience store on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, and on Douglas Street in Victoria.