EDMONTON – “It’s not just people working at gas stations who are at an elevated risk,” said Gil McGowan with the Alberta Federation of Labour.
McGowan is reacting to a recent announcement by the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police calling for the Alberta government to create a law that would require drivers to prepay at the pump before filling up.
The police association passed a resolution calling for legislation which notes gas-and-dash thieves can injure or kill gas station employees.
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“Basically anyone who works alone at night in a retail capacity whether it’s a gas station, convenience store or fast food outlet. The statistics are grim and they demonstrate that these people are at greater risk and there’s a desperate need for legislative and regulatory protection to mitigate the risk that these people face,” McGowan said.
The police chiefs association passed a similar resolution four years ago, but Alberta’s former PC government did not accept it. The idea was raised again following the death of a Calgary service station worker last year. The woman was run-over during a gas theft.
While the police chiefs resolution focuses primarily on gas station workers —; the AFL wants any new legislation to include all late-night employees.
“The new government here seems to be interested in taking action – I’ve spoken with the labour minister, I’ve spoken with the justice minister and they’ve both committed to bringing in some kind of legislation,” McGowan said.
The AFL would like to see the Alberta NDP adopt a similar law to what’s been enacted in B.C. for the past decade. The B.C. legislation requires employers to have more than one worker on shift during an overnight shift or an employee working alone must be behind a locked door and a protective barrier. Since then, the number of injuries and fatalities in B.C. have dramatically decreased.
In Vancouver alone, the number of reported gas-and-dash thefts dropped to 15 in 2008 after the law came in from 161 the year before, said Scott McCloy, a spokesman for WorkSafeBC.
“So these laws work —; they’re common sense —; and we think it’s long past time for the Alberta government to follow the B.C. example,” McGowan said. “Put these laws in place and save some lives.”
Alberta’s NDP government has said it will enact new legislation to protect late-night employees.
“We’re putting pressure on the government to make the decision sooner rather than later,” McGowan said.
with files from