Ottawa-Outaouais IWW

The General Membership Branch of the Ottawa-Outaouais region

Ottawa-Outaouais IWW header image 2

CUPW Management Responds to an Injured Worker by Forcing Her to Keep Working and Telling Her Her Injury is Her Fault

April 28th, 2019 by admin

Our previous post showed what happened to FW Aalya Ahmad. She lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, undiagnosed at the time) and began to suffer symptoms of PTSD brought on by a co-worker’s violent outburst and management ignoring it.

CUPW completely ignored its responsibility to deal with the injury FW Ahmad suffered as a result of this workplace incident even though she made repeated pleas for help to management that day and in the days to come. (At its recent arbitration with FW Ahmad, management even appeared to have forgotten that she had filed a WSIB claim for chronic mental stress.)

Look at the documents to see what happened.

The incident happened on Monday, February 13, 2018 around 10:30am.

At around 10:45am, almost immediately afterwards, FW Ahmad went to 3rd National Vice President George Floresco with her CUPE shop steward and shares that she is “triggered by yelling and threatening gestures because of past bullying incidents…”

At 1:11pm, less than two (2) hours after the incident, she reported being in distress due to current and ongoing bullying to 1st National Vice President Jan Simpson, George Floresco and President Mike Palecek (who recused himself): This is what she wrote:

“Her [co-worker’s] raised voice, aggressive anger and violent hand gestures left me severely triggered as I am a survivor of physical abuse. This completely inappropriate behaviour has made this workplace psychologically unsafe and unhealthy for me. The employer’s ongoing refusal to address bullying issues in the workplace is a real problem that must be addressed.”

The next day, Tuesday, February 14 at 7:23am, FW Ahmad wrote to National Executive Board (NEB) members Simpson, Floresco and Palecek, again reporting distress:

“I am upset, shaken and shocked by this completely inappropriate behaviour. As a survivor of physical abuse, I am triggered by violent gestures. The anger and aggression that ___ displayed towards me is excessive, over the top, and an outburst that should not be tolerated in the workplace.” Two (2) days later, due to the employer’s handling of the situation, Ahmad was in a situation of mental health crisis and breakdown which she reported to her employer. She emailed the following request to Simpson, Floresco and Palecek on February 16, 2018 at 2:37pm.

“Hello,

I am severely triggered by the bullying and harassment I have reported.

As you are aware, this is not the first time for me at CUPW. My panic attacks and anxiety have returned and I have beenunable to eat or sleep. My focus is completely shot and I have been unable to think clearly since Monday.

I think it would be best if I took next week away from the office as leave in order to do some self-care and try to be in a better place to deal with this trauma. I am currently experiencing the office as a hostile work environment.

I am therefore requesting special leave under Article 14.9 of the collective agreement from Tuesday through Friday of next week. I had already arranged for the 20th.

I will make myself available for the ADR as agreed on Friday.

Please advise if this leave is approved.

Thanks.
Aalya”

The Human Resources Committee (National Secretary-Treasurer Bev Collins, Simpson and Quebec National Director François Senneville) responded to this injured worker as follows:

“This letter is to inform you that your request of special leave is denied.

The conditions don’t warrant approval of your special leave request. The circumstances of your request are directly attributable to you.

In addition, another member in the communications department is on leave next week and due to operational requirements, leave cannot be approved.”

Yours truly,
Bev Collins
cc. Jan Simpson, Francois Senneville.

They didn’t refer her to her Employee Assistance Program, suggest she use sick leave, or follow up on her reported condition. They didn’t even get the date of her request right.

They told a traumatized worker in crisis that this was her fault and that she had to come into work because of “operational requirements”.

Is that how you treat an injured worker, CUPW?

N.B. Sunday is April 28th, the National Day of Mourning for workers killed, injured or made ill on the job. Mourn our dead. Fight like hell for the living.

Tags: No Comments