Workers in the housekeeping department at the CISSS du Bas-Saint Laurent learned last week that they will be required to intervene when a “code white” is declared or face disciplinary action up to dismissal. The employer even stepped up its threat by adding that fines ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 would be levied when assistance is not provided to any person in danger.
“Code white” is an emergency procedure that takes effect when a request for immediate assistance is received from a staff member confronted by a patient acting violently, who represents a threat to the physical and psychological health and safety of the persons involved. Such responses must come from a team and be both structured and safe.
The union, however, has proposed a solution to resolve this issue and enable the employer to have volunteers to respond to these dangerous situations. Meanwhile, the employer seemingly opted for a threat-based strategy, which has angered the employees concerned as well as the president of the union.
“Housekeeping employees at the CISSS-BSL will have to respond whenever a “code white” is declared. In fact, they have only received one day of training during which they learned how to respond during a crisis situation. Employees who do not wish to intervene because they are not physically or psychologically able to will face disciplinary action and even fines. It’s unacceptable,” said Johanne Campagna, the president of the Syndicat des travailleuses et des travailleurs de la santé et des services sociaux du Bas-Saint-Laurent, CUPE 5007.
However, the Act respecting occupational health and safety stipulates that workers have a right to working conditions that ensure their health, safety and physical integrity. The union plans to continue denouncing this aberration in all forums in the coming weeks. CUPE represents some 2000 category 2 employees, i.e., para-technical staff, auxiliary services and trades.