Montreal, April 2, 2020 – Teamsters Canada is demanding that gas stations and highway rest areas fully re-open to transportation workers and asking federal and provincial governments to pressure them into doing so if necessary.
Gas stations and highway rest areas limited access to their facilities or closed altogether in the wake of the pandemic, making it harder for truck drivers and delivery workers across North America to find clean bathrooms. Finding a hot shower, a warm meal or simply a place to wash their hands has also become more difficult.
“This is a matter of human decency. Nobody can be expected to work an entire day without using a bathroom. It’s a disgraceful way to treat the truck drivers and delivery workers who are essential to the functioning of our country,” said the national president of Teamsters Canada, François Laporte.
“Some of our members are going days without a shower and going close to an hour outside their normal routes just to find a bathroom. Others have resorted to using a tree on a secluded sideroad, which is humiliating and especially difficult for women,” he added.
Gas stations and highway rest areas help transportation workers with their basic human needs. The union contends that these essential businesses are less dangerous and less likely to spread the virus than grocery stores and pharmacies, provided that they are properly cleaned and maintained.
With most cities in lockdown, the problem is affecting urban and local drivers just as much as it is affecting long-haul drivers. Local drivers may never go on a major highway and see a truck stop or rest area. Instead, they use the facilities at fast food restaurants (like Tim Hortons and McDonald’s) or the workplaces they’re delivering to. These places are now closed to the public or closed altogether.
“Truck drivers and delivery workers are vital to keeping hospitals supplied and food on store shelves. If they can’t do their job properly, we all suffer,” warned Laporte. “Everyone has a breaking point and if this goes on, some drivers get sick or will simply stop showing up to work, harming the supply chain and leaving critical shipments in limbo.”
Teamsters represent close to 125,000 workers in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.