In these truly unprecedented and anxious times, KINWU has been and will continue to be available to assist members. To date, KINWU has requested INVISTA waive the otherwise mandatory 24 hour waiting period for sick leave pay to encourage employees to absent themselves from the workplace when exhibiting even the slightest symptoms associated with COVID.

KINWU has also requested that INVISTA implement hourly rate increases to all classifications in recognition of the enhanced risks being assumed by members as they continue to work during this current public health crisis. Although KINWU does not have the ability to force INVISTA to make these changes, KINWU will continue to vigorously advocate for them on the members’ behalf.

As you are now aware, the Provincial Government has now issued a list of essential workplaces that are currently entitled to remain open and operating during this COVID 19 crisis. INVISTA’S Kingston facility site currently falls within the list of essential business operations. Although the Provincial Government is currently allowing manufacturing facilities like INVISTA’s Kingston site to remain open, Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Ford, as well as mayors across the Province, have each emphasized that the health and safety of all Ontario workers remains of utmost importance during this health crisis.

KINWU is committed to use the full weight of its resources to ensure the ongoing health and safety of KINWU members and their families. With this in mind, KINWU appreciates that COVID 19 continues to prevent ongoing and significant health and safety risks to members who remain working.

As President, I write to remind all KINWU members that the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) affords all KINWU members the statutory right to refuse unsafe work. Although KINWU does not itself have the lawful right or ability to unilaterally shut down the Kingston site, KINWU has every intention of supporting each and every member’s reasonable exercise of their work refusal rights. Make no mistake. KINWU will hold all INVISTA accountable to its OHSA obligations and is fully intent on taking all steps necessary to ensure that all health and safety precautions reasonable in the circumstances to protect KINWU members from the spread of and/or exposure to COVID 19 in the workplace are in place and adhered to.

Should any KINWU member have a reasonable belief that their health and safety is at risk in the workplace, that member should take the following steps immediately.

Find a safe location in the workplace;
Contact workplace supervision to communicate the existence of the workplace health and safety risk;
Contact a KINWU Union Steward with details of the workplace health and safety risk; and
If necessary, contact the Ministry of Labour to initiate a formal complaint (on an anonymous basis if so desired).

KINWU urges members to practice health and safety vigiloance in the workplace by engaging in frequent handwashing with soap, cough and sneeze etiquette and workplace social distancing which means remaining no less than 2 meters or 6 feet from their co-workers at all times, and in every circumstance.

Larry Garrah
President, KINWU
Kingston Independent Nylon Workers Union