A union that represents 7,000 grocery store workers in Manitoba says it fears stricter health orders, including a ban on the sale of non-essential goods, will spark confrontations between workers and customers.
"It is not the duty of a cashier or any worker in a retail business to be enforcing the law, especially while many are refusing to bring back any kind of pandemic pay," said Jeff Traeger, president of UFCW Local 832.
After weeks of increasingly higher COVID-19 case counts, the province’s top doctor announced Thursday that new measures to curb community transmission would take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
One of the new measures is a ban on the sale of non-essential items in stores. Customers can order the items online for pick-up and delivery.
UFCW says it has reached out to management at grocery stores where its members work, and has asked for detailed plans on how the ban will be handled and how its members will be supported.
The union wants stores to ensure managers are on the floor to deal with customers’ complaints, ensure that workers do not have to enforce the new restrictions, and hire security guards where needed.
The union said workers should be reminded they have the right to refuse unsafe work, and any customer who doesn’t wear a mask or becomes confrontational can be considered unsafe.