Friday evening a revised memo was posted for ETS Operators, Dispatchers & others giving detailed instruction concerning ETS’ response to the new Provincially mandated COVID restrictions.
Specifically, Director of Operations Ryan Birch was “asking all ETS employees to wear masks at all times while at work.” This ask includes Operators even while behind the wheel.
The change of policy comes at a time when COVID is running rampant in Alberta and in Edmonton in particular. I’ve just finished reading a deeply disturbing description from a member of our Local, a fellow operator. In it she begged for relief: “I just want it to be over”. It is no fun to be so sick you can’t function, you can’t even get up on your own, you’re racked with pain and can’t breathe and nobody can visit you, to hold your hand and whisper support.
It will, no doubt, seem onerous to some to be expected to wear a mask at all times. But this insidious, evil virus demands it now, if we’re going to beat it. Many operators have expressed concern, even fears over passengers who are not compliant with mask requirements. This is a horrendously difficult order to enforce and operators are NOT tasked with enforcement. A small thing each of us can do is to model the desired behavior.
Your Union strongly recommends compliance with the mask-at-all-times ask. Wearing a mask outside the drivers’ seat continues to be an enforced policy and Inspectors may document Operators for failing to comply. If you’re not wearing a mask in your drivers’ seat, an Inspector may speak to you about it and reason with you. For now at least.
Working together, using common sense and complying with Provincial protocol mandates, we WILL get through this. Too many people have been deeply harmed and even died needlessly from this. Each of us doing our part will start to bend the curve down.
ATU Local 569