Amina Di­aby’s tragic end

In­dus­trial bak­ery pleads guilty in temp agency worker’s death

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - FRONT PAGE - WEEK­END, SEPTEM­BER 15 17, 2017 Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Bren­dan Kennedy Torstar News Ser­vice metroSCIENCE High 24°C/Low 17°C Sunny

Amina Di­aby died on Sept. 2, 2016 when her hi­jab be­came “en­tan­gled” in ma­chin­ery, stran­gling her.


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.


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