Skip to content

Opinion: ‘I don’t get paid enough for this abuse,’ says bullied Burnaby gas station worker

Should gas station set their pumps to automatically stop at 30 litres
Glacier Media file photo

Kal likes his boss, but says his Burnaby employer has made a tactical mistake in dealing with the new gas restrictions.

Kal doesn’t want his real name used or the station he works at in Burnaby because he doesn’t want to lose his job. But he’s fed up with the abuse he’s been subjected to in recent days from customers due to the restrictions, which are supposed to limit drivers to 30 litres.

Instead of setting the pumps to automatically stop at 30 litres, the station is relying on signage and staff politely speaking with customers.

“Some people are freaking out on us,” said Kal, who spoke to me on Tuesday while he was on a break. “I was supposed to explain the sign and urge people to stop at 30, but one guy told me to ‘f*** off’ and stuff like that. Some people have been nicely saying they appreciate the limit, but that they weren’t going to comply. I don’t get paid enough for this abuse.”

That seems like a terrible situation to put your workers in. I’d say the stations should have to set their pumps to automatically stop at 30 litres instead of having staff police customers. Of course, some people will still freak out, but it seems like a better solution.

Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s minister of public safety and solicitor general, said Friday access to gas will be prioritized for emergency and essential vehicles, granting them unrestricted access to gas using commercial card-lock stations.

Non-essential vehicles used by average British Columbian are restricted to 30 litres of gas per visit in southwestern B.C. (from Metro Vancouver east to Hope), Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

This led to many Burnaby gas stations seeing lineups as people rushed to get gas – with some people reporting waiting as long as 30 minutes.

Farnworth indicated that the 30-litre limit would be enforced through the honour system.

“They’re [British Columbians] going to do the right thing. Will there be people that want to … [not] abide by that? Yes, there will. But the overwhelming majority of people will do the right thing,” he said, adding those who don’t abide by the new restriction could face “a significant fine of about $2,000.”

“We can’t have a police officer at every gas station.”

Farnworth said the province has a “reduced but steady supply of gasoline” and that more would be coming in via truck and barge from Alberta, Washington state, Oregon and California.

In the meantime, he’s urging British Columbians to consider using transit, or else carpooling or walking to their destinations.

- With files from Tyler Orton, Business in Vancouver

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.