Alberta unions urge action on gas station safety

Death of worker could have been avoided through pay-at-the-pump legislation and related safety measures

Edmonton – In the wake of the senseless death of Maryam Rashidi, a gas station attendant in Calgary, the leaders of many of Alberta’s largest unions are calling‎ on Rachel Notley’s NDP government to move quickly to introduce a “pay-before-you-pump” law, similar to the laws in place in BC and other provinces.

At a meeting today of the Alberta Federation of Labour’s Executive Committee, the presidents of dozens of private and public-sector unions voted unanimously in support of a motion calling on the Notley government to implement a four-part workplace safety plan for gas stations.

“Almost every province in Canada enacted pay-before-you-pump legislation after a similar tragedy in British Columbia a decade ago, but Alberta’s Tory premiers didn’t have the guts to stand up to industry lobbyists,” AFL president Gil McGowan said. “With a new government, we’re hopeful that there will finally be a willingness on the part of our elected representatives to enact a pay-at-the-pump law in Alberta and other measures designed to ensure the safety of gas station attendants.”

The AFL’s recommendation to the Alberta government includes the following four proposals:

  1. Introduce a “pay-before-you‎-pump” law that would require customers to pre-pay or pay at the pump before they can pump gas.

  2. Introduce regulations making it mandatory for gas station employers to provide their employees with training about how to deal with robberies and gas-and-dash situations. This training must make it clear that money lost from gas-and-dash robberies (or any other kind of robberies) will not be deducted from an employee’s paycheque.

  3. Introduce regulations that require gas stations to have more than one person on duty on night shifts, when robberies and violent attacks are most likely. If the employer insists on having only one staff member on duty, that staff member must work in a locked area, behind bullet-proof glass.

  4. Launch an investigation to determine whether or not Centex told Ms. Rashidi that money lost from gas-and-dash robberies would be deducted from her paycheque. If it is determined that Centex, in contravention of Alberta law, gave these instructions,  the government should prosecute the company and the local gas station manager under both the Occupation Health and Safety Code and the Criminal Code.

“If a gas station attendant thinks they’re going to be on the hook for the cost of lost fuel, they’re likelier to take risks in chasing down thieves,” McGowan said. “The province should mandate safety training for gas station attendants —so they know they won’t face any penalty for money lost due to robberies.”

In response to media reports saying that government bureaucrats are “too busy” to put the issue of a pay-before-you-pump law before the new government as it prepares for its first session in the Legislature, McGowan scoffed.

“If the bureaucrats are too busy to present this issue to the Minister, we’ll do it for them,” said McGowan. “And we’ll do it today. This is something that should have and could have been dealt with a decade ago. This tragedy took the life of a talented young woman and left her family without a mother and a wife. We’re not prepared to wait any longer. We’re certainly not going to wait for another tragedy. The time for action is now.”

McGowan will be available to meet with the media at 12:30 p.m. this afternoon at the Polish Hall in Edmonton (10960 - 104 Street) where the meeting of the AFL Executive Committee is being held. Please use the door on the south side of the building.



Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.9888 (cell)
or via e-mail

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail

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