Mourning the loss of workers
Labour council president repeats call for measures to reduce workplace deaths, injuries
Sisters and brothers — we gather today to mourn the loss of workers who never came home from their jobs in our community.
Sadly, going to work killed them — either through industrial accidents or through workplace exposure to carcinogens that cause fatal illnesses like cancer or asbestosis. Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, last year 33 workers died from workplace accident or illness. Across Canada, more than 1,000 workers lost their lives in 2010. That’s unacceptable. More can and more must be done to end worker fatalities.
And we call upon Newfoundland and Labrador, the federal government and employers to take action — not just send condolences. The fact that overall each year in Canada about 1,000 or more workers die because their workplaces are unsafe is totally unacceptable.
2012 also marks a tragic anniversary in worker fatalities. Twenty years ago, the Westray Mine disaster in Nova Scotia instantly killed 26 workers when underground methane gas exploded. Their lives were needlessly lost because the owners of the Westray Mine cut corners on safety to make bigger profits, as the Westray Inquiry found out.
The labour movement fought hard for several years to win approval in Parliament for the Westray Bill, which amended the Criminal Code of Canada to criminally prosecute and jail employers who don’t protect the lives of their employees. But sadly, in the nine years since the Westray amendments were passed, only two provinces have laid charges under the Criminal Code.
But since the Westray Mine disaster, more than 13,000 other Canadians have lost their lives due to accidents on the job and workplace illnesses.the families and friends of those 13,000 workers attended funerals — instead of retirement parties. Those workers’ families got a terrible call from the police or hospital instead of an expected call from their loved one saying: “I’m on my way home!”
Sisters and brothers, we don’t want to keep repeating our call for help at every Day of Mourning. We want these unnecessary deaths prevented. We want the numbers to go down each year, not up. We want every worker to be safe on the job and go home at the end of their shift.
So today we rededicate ourselves to calling on government and employers to take far more action to prevent workplace fatalities. Our solidarity — and our profound sadness at these tragic losses — demands nothing less.
— Debbie Mccarthy
Adrian Pye had the honour of cutting the Day of Mourning cake during an April 28 ceremony in Carbonear in honour of those who lost their lives on the job. The ceremony took place at the Conception Bay Regional Community Centre. Adrian was a close friend of Paul Pike of Shearstown, who died March 12, 2009. Pike was one of 17 people who perished when Cougar Helicopters Flight 91 ditched in the ocean about 55 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland.