COVID-19’s has not only threatened the health and safety of workers, but also created unprecedented disruptions in people’s lives. While it is important to create a COVID-safe workplace, it is equally important to confront the social, economical, and psychological strains that the pandemic has created. In this unprecedented pandemic, everyone has a different anxiety level and health factors to be put into consideration. There is no blanket policy capable of addressing all the issues that arose or exacerbated by COVID-19.
The quotes displayed on this webpage are taken directly from the lived experiences survey, with consent of the participating YUSAPUY members.
Majority of YUSAPUY members were able to retain their work, but other members faced dismissal or reduced hours, disproportionately impacting Unit 2 members. While the majority of YUSAPUY members are able to work remotely, some positions were deemed as required services. There are obvious health and safety risks associated for employees to be back on campus. It is equally important to provide protective equipment and a safe working environment, and to respect employees’ concerns and insecurities with being back at work.
The attitude is that the needs of a couple of students that might complain is more important than the risk and well being of the aged workforce that is being asked to come in. – Anonymous Member
While YUSAPUY members are feeling vulnerable as they return to campus as required services, many members reported feeling stressed and strained as they transition into work from home. Due to the nature of remote work, there is little separation between personal and work, creating additional stress for employees to do outside of work hours. Members also mentioned that they are struggling with the change of work culture, and the need to spend more time doing equivalent tasks.
There has been a greater difficulty in separating our private and professional lives, as we receive emails throughout the day, including outside of our work hours. Those of us working from home also don’t always have the adequate conditions available… – Anonymous Member
… I am being pulled in multiple directions much more frequently, causing me to not take regularly scheduled breaks and quite often I end up working into the night after hours as that is the only time I am able to complete work that was assigned to me and not be bothered by anyone. – Anonymous Member
There are many essential supplies needed to enable remote work, which is why the employer must also provide internet access, electronic devices, office set up, and office supplies. This will ensure that all members are able properly equipped to carry out their responsibilities from afar.
Those of us working from home also don’t always have the adequate conditions available – for example, decent chairs, appropriate number of screens, office supplies and so on. – Anonymous Member
There have been clear concerns over how remote work is implemented and its impact on workers, but it also started conversations about the future of remote work. Many YUSAPUY members feel like work from home arrangement is preferable, as it enables greater flexibility and accessibility for employees.
Personally, not only I perform better at home as compared to the office, but I also prefer to work remotely. My work does not require me to physically stay at the university, so it is perfectly feasible to do the work anywhere. – Anonymous Member
The York U and YUSAPUY communities have faced various difficulties since the start of the pandemic. We must continue to listen to YUSAPUY members and incorporate their experience in how the union advances labour rights.
- Protecting Workers and Students On Campus During COVID-19 Infographic – YUSAPUY
- Resources for Individuals During COVID-19 Pandemic – Toronto & York Region Labour Council
- Priority Responses to COVID-19 – Toronto & York Region Labour Council
- COVID-19 resources: Being Smart, Staying Safe – The Confederation of Canadian Unions
- COVID-19 & the World of Work – International Labour Organization
- COVID-19 Resource Centre – Canadian Labour Congress
- Social and Economic Analysis of COVID-19 – Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives