Protesters call for restoration of ‘Grant’s Law’
Protesters from the BC Federation of Labour’s Young Workers Committee gathered outside of an East Vancouver convenience store Saturday for an overnight protest aimed at changes protesters say would improve safety for overnight workers.
The protest outside Mac’s on Commercial Drive at 10th Avenue called for the reversal of a change to labour laws that was made in 2012.
“The reason we’re here is because we want the law changed back to have two late-night workers working for the overnight shift instead of just one,” said Milena Kollay, the committee’s chairwoman.
The two-person requirement was part of “Grant’s Law,” a piece of legislation named for gas station attendant Grant De Patie, who was killed in a gas-and-dash incident in Maple Ridge in 2005.
When it was first adopted, Grant’s Law required B.C. drivers to pre-pay for gas and mandated that employers had to install protective cages for employees working late nights, as well as staff more than one worker for overnight shifts.
In 2012, after what Kollay described as lobbying from Mac’s and other convenience store chains, Grant’s Law was changed. Employers were given an option to avoid providing a cage and staffing multiple workers if they installed surveillance cameras, a time-locked safe and a panic button.
“They changed the law to protect, almost, more the cash instead of the workers’ safety,” Kollay said.
She said her committee lobbied Minister of Labour Harry Bains last year and found him receptive to their concerns, but the government has yet to make the changes her group is looking for.
“We want to see it done as soon as possible, obviously,” Kollay said. “You would just feel safer knowing that there was someone else there that you can count on.”
In addition to Saturday night’s protest, Kollay said the group plans to unveil a plaque in De Patie’s memory on June 1. The memorial will be located across the street from the gas station where he worked.
“We wanted somewhere with visibility,” she said. “It’s right at a really busy bus shelter that’s there and it’s right by the high school, so we’re hoping that a lot of people will see it and remember Grant.”