A virtual sit-in will be taking place in memory of a Maple Ridge man killed in a gas-and-dash in 2005.
The sit-in, organized by the B.C. Federation of Labour, BCFED, Young Workers’ Committee, is meant to highlight, what they believe are weak safety laws for convenience store and gas station staff working alone at night.
Grant De Patie was a 24-year-old gas station attendant who was killed after being dragged under a vehicle following a gas-and-dash at a station at Dewdney Trunk Road and 248 Street.
He had been working late and alone.
Darnell Darcy Pratt pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case, and was sentenced to nine years in prison. He died in February of 2019, at age 30 in New Westminster.
In 2007 Grant’s Law passed in the province, requiring new safety measures for retail employees working alone.
Some of the new measures included making drivers pay for gas before pumping, putting up safety barriers between workers and customers, and having two workers on graveyard shifts.
However, in 2011, WorkSafeBC amended Grant’s Law, allowing convenience stores to follow other safety procedures instead of having two people on shift, including time-lock safes, video surveillance, and keeping limited amounts of cash and lottery tickets on hand.
“As we gather to remember Grant, our message is clear: the BC government and Worker’s Compensation Board must act now to keep convenience and gas station workers safe from incidents of violence and theft,” said Rick Kumar, chair of the BCFED Young Worker’s Committee.
Kumar accused the former BC Liberal government under Christy Clark of watering down the safety measures, under pressure from big corporations like Mac’s Convenience.
To date, he said, the BC NDP government and Workers’ Compensation Board have maintained the status quo, putting worker safety at risk.
“Re-instate the requirement for two workers to be working between 10:00pm and 6:00am or require a protective barrier between workers and customers that keeps them safe,” he demanded.
BCFED president Laird Cronk, said the value of frontline workers and the need for strong health and safety measures has come to the forefront of people’s attention again because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Government knows what to do to protect these workers; what’s needed now is political will,” he said.
The BCFED has launched an online petition calling for the full reinstatement of Grant’s Law.
The virtual sit-in is taking place from 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 19 to 6 a.m. Sunday, June 20 at twitch.tv/bcfedywc.
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