Support Your Brothers and Sisters

Written by: Chuck Macklon

We recently sent Lisa and Brenda from KSCU to attend a Duty to Accommodate course in Vancouver.  The course was very informative and the information we received will be very helpful to us.  Rather than write a technical article about accommodating disabilities claims I am going to take this opportunity to write about what its’ like to be sick or injured and unable to return to work at full capacity.  Just think about it for a minute, we all know someone who has had the misfortune of being injured off the job or stricken with a disabling illness and has been unable to return to work as originally prescribed.

It is very frustrating having your co-worker off work for an extended period of time, or returning to work only partially.  After all, who does management turn to when the work isn’t getting done?  I’ve often heard from our members that they are being asked to do extra work because their co-worker isn’t at work or is unable to do their job fully.  I’ve seen resentment form to the degree where co-workers are registering complaints against their incapacitated co-workers.  Often this leads to disciplinary action against the employee and places their employment in jeopardy.

I’m asking all of you to be considerate of your fellow employees who are struggling to get back to work.  Consider the impact the injury or illness has had on the employee.  In the more serious situations the affected employee has had to accept that they can no longer function as they used to, not only in the workplace, but also at home, sometimes being unable to care for their families as they used to or participate in the activities they love.  Beyond the physical limitations, the employee is likely dealing with depression, anxiety, and loss of self-esteem.  Your support and understanding of their circumstance is very important to their successful return to work.

Many of the issues our co-workers face on a day to day basis are invisible to us or shrouded in a veil of secrecy.  It’s easier to understand the disadvantages a person in a wheelchair faces, but what about the symptoms we can’t see?  Chronic pain and depression are but two examples in a very long list of invisible symptoms that can adversely affect our lives and work performance.  Our co-workers need our support to integrate back into the workplace, it is an essential part of their successful return to work plan.  If you are concerned that your co-worker is struggling through their return to work program take a minute to consider why that may be.  Before lodging performance complaints with management consider the impact that may have on your co-worker.

At some point in our lives we are all going to need the help and patience of others.  If you are frustrated and feel you are being treated unfairly at work, please talk to your shop steward or call the Union hall.  Let’s support each other, if we don’t who will?