Alberta unions urge action on gas station safety following worker death

Say death could have been avoided via pay-at-the-pump legislation

Following the senseless death of Maryam Rashidi, a gas station attendant in Calgary, the leaders of many of Alberta's largest unions are calling on Rachel Notley's NDP government to move quickly to introduce a "pay-before-you-pump" law.

The Alberta Federation of Labour's Executive Committee, the presidents of dozens of private and public-sector unions voted unanimously in support of a motion calling on the Notley government to implement a four-part workplace safety plan for gas stations, similar to the laws in place in BC and other provinces.

"Almost every province in Canada enacted pay-before-you-pump legislation after a similar tragedy in British Columbia a decade ago, but Alberta's Tory premiers didn't have the guts to stand up to industry lobbyists," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "With a new government, we're hopeful that there will finally be a willingness on the part of our elected representatives to enact a pay-at-the-pump law in Alberta and other measures designed to ensure the safety of gas station attendants."

The AFL's recommendation to the Alberta government include:

  • Introduce a "pay-before-you-pump" law that would require customers to pre-pay or pay at the pump before they can pump gas.
  • Introduce regulations making it mandatory for gas station employers to provide their employees with training on how to deal with robberies and gas-and-dash situations. Training must make it clear that money lost from gas-and-dash robberies will not be deducted from an employee's paycheque.
  • To ensure worker safety introduce regulations that require gas stations to have more than one person on night shift duty or have one worker in a locked area behind bulletproof glass.
  • Launch an investigation to determine whether Centex made it clear Ms. Rashidi that money lost from gas-and-dash robberies would not be deducted from her paycheque. It is advised that the company and local manager are prosecuted under Occupation Health and Safety Code and the Criminal Code, if foul play was involved.

"The province should mandate safety training for gas station attendants - so they know they won't face any penalty for money lost due to robberies," said McGowan.

"If the bureaucrats are too busy to present this issue to the Minister, we'll do it for them," added McGowan. "And we'll do it today. This is something that should have and could have been dealt with a decade ago. This tragedy took the life of a talented young woman and left her family without a mother and a wife. We're not prepared to wait any longer. We're certainly not going to wait for another tragedy. The time for action is now," said McGowan in response to media reports that government bureaucrats are too busy to put the issue of a pay-before-you-pump law before the new government.

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