Workers across sectors are already feeling the negative impacts of the climate crisis. After years of increasingly severe weather, we’ve become accustomed to images of firefighters battling wildfires and EMS workers helping residents in the aftermath of severe storms. But how is climate change impacting workers in sectors that don’t often show up in the headlines, like the food service industry?
Our friends at the Worker Solidarity Network shed some light on that question with the launch of their new report, Can’t Stand the Heat? Get Out of the Kitchen! The report details how food service workers in British Columbia are already in crisis due to low unionization rates, poor wages, unpredictable hours, and mistreatment in the workplace. With extreme weather events like the heat dome that scorched B.C. in 2021 added to the mix, these challenges are only intensifying.
The report explores how poor working conditions put food service workers at risk during extreme weather. A lack of enforced breaks for hydration while on shift, lack of employment contracts to keep workers informed of their rights, lack of encouragement for workers to take their paid sick days, and disrupted incomes based on scheduling issues, all make workers in this sector more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
To address the intersecting crises of precarious work and climate change, the Worker Solidarity Network is calling on the government of British Columbia to strengthen labour protections and step-up enforcement of health and safety regulations. The policy changes proposed in the report offer a model for workers’ movements across the country to demand changes in other provincial jurisdictions.
https://workersolidarity.ca/climate-report/Read more about the impacts of the climate crisis on food service workers, and recommendations to strengthen legislation and enforcement in ways that support workers, by visiting https://workersolidarity.ca/climate-report/.