Members of the Worker Solidarity Network staged a demonstration on the grounds of the B.C. legislature Saturday (June 17) calling on the government to recognize and address concerns regarding work in extreme heat.
Hoping to drive the point home, the group displayed a large thermometer and encouraged workers to write down their specific concerns on red paper, then place them in the thermometer to mimic the rising mercury inside.
In a release, the group said the demonstration follows the release of its Climate and Labour Report in May, which found 87 per cent of workers surveyed reported heatwaves as the most impactful extreme weather event, and there are no laws in place to protect workers’ employment if they refuse to report to work during an extreme weather event.
The report provides recommendations for immediate policy change in provincial legislation, including paid climate leave, a maximum temperature policy, and additional breaks during heatwaves.
“Employment law was not written to anticipate a rise in extreme environmental disasters,” says Jen Kostuchuk, coordinator of the WSN’s climate and labour project in the release. “Workers’ income security is at risk during extreme weather events. How B.C. decides to safeguard those most vulnerable during extreme weather events will demonstrate the fundamental priorities of this government.
“Immediate policy changes need to take place to put an end to the experiences workers have endured as a result of changing climate.”