OTTAWA, July 3, 2015 /CNW/ - Unifor is applauding a ruling this afternoon that a two-person armoured car crew was justified in refusing work due to working conditions that were unsafe for the workers and the general public.
"This is a very important ruling that backs up what Unifor has been saying. Two-person crews are unsafe for both the crew members, and for the public," Unifor Staff Representative Mike Armstrong said.
An Employment and Social Development Canada health and safety officer issued a ruling this afternoon on the case of two Brinks crew members, members of Unifor Local 4266, who refused work due to unsafe conditions at two Ottawa malls, saying the employees were justified in declining to service customers at the malls. Two similar cases in Sudbury and Peterborough will be heard in November.
With a two-person crew, one crew member must walk through the malls alone to serve Brinks customers there, while the other stays behind with the vehicle.
"Two-person crews such as this increase the risk of robbery, and that puts both the crew members and the public at large at greater risk," Armstrong said. "Cost cutting cannot come at the price of risking public safety."
Industry statistics show that 70 per cent of armoured car robberies in the last 10 years have been against two-person crews. Unifor met with the federal government last year to discuss safety concerns in the armoured car industry, and to push for a taskforce to look for ways to improve safety.
Today's ruling follows another last year in favour of a Brinks messengers in Peterborough and Sudbury, who refused to carry cash to and from an automated teller machine without a guard, saying it was unsafe for him to carry the money alone while the other crew member stayed in the truck.
In January 2014, a two-person crew was involved in a shootout during a robbery at Toronto's Fairview Mall. A similar robbery took place in Montreal about a month later, also involving a two-person crew.
Unifor has called for a task force on the armoured car industry to conduct research, gather stakeholders' views and develop recommendations and legislation to address a patchwork of out of date and ineffective regulations for the industry.
For a copy of Unifor's review of the armoured car industry and complete recommendations to improve its safety, go to unifor.org/safecargo.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, with more than 305,000 members, including 2,000 in the armoured car industry. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 with the merger of the Canadian Autoworkers with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.