As you may know, either from personal experience or from the news, bed bugs were found in some federal buildings in Ottawa a few weeks ago. We’ve been keeping a close eye on this issue and have discussed it with other federal unions as well as with the federal government.
CAPE believes our members have a right to work in a safe and sanitary environment. The presence of bedbugs creates a risk to our members’ health and must be assessed and managed. Furthermore, CAPE believes these unsanitary conditions warrant urgent action.
On October 31th, CAPE President, Greg Phillips, joined by other union presidents met with Deputy Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Mr. Bill Matthew. The meeting allowed all parties get an update on the bedbug situation and some reassurance that the government is addressing it.
Since then, we have been informed that the government communicates regularly with employees in office buildings affected, and that the situation is under control. So far, most of the incidents have been isolated and are not on an epidemic scale.
1. Your rights
According to your collective agreements*, the employer is responsible for ensuring federal employees work in a safe and healthy environment.
Occupational Health and Safety is covered in the Canada Labour Code. Part II of the Code outlines your right to complain about a suspected or confirmed unhealthy and unsafe situation. The internal complaint process for health and safety contraventions is covered in articles 127.1(1) and 127.1(3).
2. Pest: Take immediate action
Early intervention and reporting remain critical components of effective pest management.
If you suspect or find bedbugs in the workplace, first notify your manager. You can also call the National Service Centre at 1-800-463-1850, as well contact your CAPE Local and the Occupational Health and Safety Committee in your workplace to inform them of the situation and seek further guidance.
3. Contact your LRO or Local
If you feel the immediate actions you have taken have not produced the desired results, the matter might need to be escalated further. In this situation, please contact your Labour Relations Officer (LRO) or your local to update them and to get them involved.
Locals defend member’s rights and interests through organization, advocacy, and consultation on behalf of its members and can help inform members on matters of concern and of interest in the workplace. In this specific case, a Local would work closely with the Labour Relations Officer (LRO’s) to assist members who have been affected by this issue.
If you don’t have a local and are dealing with work related issues, you could consider starting one! Contact your LRO today to find out more about it.