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Sydney A workplace smoking policy set to begin on July 1 in nine health care facilities across Cape Breton will discriminate against employees who smoke.

That charge comes today from the union representing more than 400 clerical workers with the Cape Breton District Health Authority, District 8, CUPE Local 2431.

CUPE National Representative Jacquie Bramwell says, Starting July 1, smoking will no longer be permitted in employees own vehicles, or in any of the parking lots. Smoking in designated shelters will be allowed for certain patients only. We appreciate the fact that the District recognizes that smoking is an addiction and are allowing some patients to smoke; however, we believe that consideration be afforded to employees also.

The affected facilities are Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Glace Bay Health Care, Harbourview Hospital, New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, Northside General Hospital, Taigh Na Mara in Glace Bay, Inverness Consolidated Hospital, Buchanan Memorial and Sacred Heart Community Health Care in Cheticamp.

This employer has crossed the line with this new policy. While we all know that in a perfect world, no one would smoke, the reality is that some people still do, including workers in the health care sector, says Bramwell.

These employees, many of whom work shift work, are being told that at three oclock in the morning, on their 15 minute coffee break, they will have to leave the hospital premises entirely if they want to smoke. This poses major security issues for our members. It is an unacceptable position for this employer to take, says Bramwell.

The union says grievances will be filed and they have written to human resources on the matter but have had no reply. Bramwell says, The employer has offered smoking cessation programs, which is all fine and well, but these programs take time and are not always successful.

With this new smoking policy, certain hospital patients now have rights that hospital employees no longer enjoy. This is patently unfair and discriminatory, she adds.

For information:

Jacquie Bramwell
CUPE National Rep.
(902) 539-4933 (o)

John McCracken
CUPE Communications Rep.
(902) 455-4180 (o)