Amina Diaby’s tragic end
Industrial bakery pleads guilty in temp agency worker’s death
Amina Diaby died on Sept. 2, 2016 when her hijab became “entangled” in machinery, strangling her.
A LITTLE SPACESHIP ON AN EPIC ADVENTURE
A Toronto factory that uses temporary workers to churn out millions of bagels and croissants for major grocery stores and fast-food chains has hired an independent auditor to review its use of temp agencies and its health and safety practices.
Fiera Foods — an industrial bakery where a Toronto Star reporter went undercover as a temp worker earlier this year — made the announcement the same day the company pleaded guilty to Ministry of Labour charges related to the death of 23-year-old temp agency worker Amina Diaby.
The company was fined $300,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, plus a 25 per cent victim surcharge, following a joint submission with the Crown. (The surcharge does not go directly to the victim’s family, but is added to a general government fund to assist victims of crime.) The fine is double what the company paid in 2002 following the death of 17-year-old temp Ivan Golyashov.
Diaby, a refugee from Guinea in West Africa, was working at Fiera’s Marmora Street factory Sept. 2, 2016, when her hijab became “entangled” in machinery, strangling her. She was hired through a temporary help agency and had been working at the plant for a little more than two weeks.
Diaby’s husband, Sanunu Jabbi, cried quietly as the facts of the case were read out.
“What happened to Amina Diaby was a tragedy,” David Gelbloom, lawyer and human resources manager for Fiera Foods, said outside court. “We have to do better, and we will do better.”
Diaby was the third temp agency worker to die while working at Fiera Foods or one of its affiliated companies since 1999.
Crown attorney Shantanu Roy told court that Diaby was not wearing a lab coat at the time of her death, and that her hijab was not secured. It got stuck in a conveyor belt that was not adequately guarded and did not have an emergency stop button within reach. There were no witnesses to her death.
Ashley Brown, the lawyer representing Fiera Foods at Thursday’s hearing, said that within the last two years the company has invested $500,000 in health and safety initiatives, while they updated uniform regulations and improved training following Diaby’s death.
Eight months after Diaby’s death, Torstar sent a reporter to work undercover at Fiera Foods for a month, as part of a yearlong investigation into the rise of temp work in Ontario. Our reporter, who was hired through a temp agency, received about five minutes of safety training, no hands-on instruction and was paid in cash at a payday lender without any documentation or deductions.