Air Canada failing to inform us of true exposure to Covid-19, employees claim

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In recent days, Canada’s government has called on anyone entering from the country to self-isolate for two weeks. But Air Canada’s senior management told cabin crew that they were exempt, in a 13 March intenal memo.

The company said staff were “well trained and prepared to protect yourselves, spend less times [sic] in the countries being visited and have access to and use protective measures on board including hand sanitizers, masks and gloves when and as appropriate”. In a previous internal chat on 23 February, the company’s chief medical officer, Dr Jim Chung, said: “In general, cabin crew are not considered to be at risk for transmission.” Comments on the private Facebook group suggest that staff are growing increasingly frustrated.

“We are at the HIGHEST risk of getting sick in those airplanes,” one employee wrote. “Anyone that thinks differently needs to walk a mile in our shoes.” Another flight attendant said they refused what they called “dangerous work” for the first time in their long career with the company. Others in the group expressed shock at what they describe as management’s failure to acknowledge the risk.

Air Canada is one of the 20 largest airlines in the world. Globally, it has more than 30,000 employees. Over the weekend, a Canadian Air Canada flight attendant became Maui’s first confirmed case[12] of Covid-19, according to local news in Hawaii.

The employee was initially infected in Germany. Three more employees, based out of Calgary, have also tested positive. Flight attendants who worked aboard flights with infected co-workers are being offered self-quarantine with pay, but are also allowed to continue working, an employee told the Guardian.

“There is a very well established, non-punitive process in place for employees who feel unwell for any reason to stay home,” said Air Canada, adding they encouraged this behaviour.

The airline also made clear that rules on self-isolation are set by public health authorities – not the company – and that they “meet or exceed these guidelines”.



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