Every year on April 28th on the National Day of Mourning, Canadians come together to commemorate workers who have lost their lives, suffered injuries, disabilities, and illness, due to work-related incidents.
Too many families have been affected by work-related preventable tragedies on the job. Health and safety standards have increased but are not consistently enforced and we must continue to be activists for increased health and safety regulation.
After a devastating and totally preventable explosion on May 9th, 1992, at a Nova Scotia mine, the United Steelworkers became instrumental in lobbying governments for legislation to hold companies criminally accountable for preventable deaths and injuries of workers. The explosions had killed 26 miners. The inquiry concluded that the explosions were due to the negligence of the company and complete disregard towards the safety of their employees.
Bill C-45, also known as the Westray Law (named after the mine), was eventually passed which holds corporations and executives criminally liable if they fail to ensure safe workplaces.
The United Steelworkers continue to push for enforcement of the Westray Law with their “Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law” campaign, because too many workers are still being killed on the job while employers go unpunished.
We are also working to ensure that our members are safe and free from violence in workplaces. USW has also implemented the “Hang Up On Abuse” campaign because many of our members work in call centres and are subjected to horrible abuse over the phone. The campaign aims to bring awareness and urge employers to allow employees to end threatening phone calls.
“Keeping our members safe at work is of utmost importance,” said National Local 1944 President Lee Riggs. “We cannot idly stand by while employers put the safety of their workers at risk, jeopardizing lives. I encourage all of our members to get involved with USW campaigns that promote health and safety in workplaces. It is just as important to make sure you vote for political candidates, at all levels of government, who will secure and enforce current legislation, and hold companies accountable when they are guilty of negligent homicide.”
Events will be held across the country in honour of the National Day of Mourning. Check out events near you for BC, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Members are encouraged to participate on their own time.
The Telecommunications Workers Union, United Steelworkers National Local 1944.