Westray Act Ignored Once Again
SUDBURY, ON, Sept. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Families and co-workers of Jordan
Fram and Jason Chenier, and the entire community, deserve answers on
the decision by police and Crown prosecutors not to pursue criminal
charges, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.
"There is extensive evidence that the deaths of Jordan Fram and Jason
Chenier were avoidable and should never have happened," said USW Local
6500 President Rick Bertrand.
"We continue to believe that Vale showed a reckless disregard for the
safety of its employees at the Stobie mine," Bertrand said.
"The evidence shows that ongoing safety hazards in the mine were
ignored. We believe that Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier would not have
been killed if these problems had been addressed."
The two miners died on June 8, 2011, after a torrent of wet mud and ore
flooded a tunnel where they were working, at Vale's Stobie Mine in
Sudbury. An eight-month investigation by USW Local 6500 uncovered
damning evidence that the deaths could have been avoided.
Bertrand has requested a meeting with the Sudbury Crown Attorney to seek
an explanation for the decision not to pursue criminal charges.
"Jordan's and Jason's families, their co-workers and our community
deserve to know why, even in these disturbing circumstances, with so
much evidence, that the Criminal Code doesn't apply to these deaths,"
"The Westray Act is supposed to protect workers and hold employers
accountable," Bertrand said.
"We would like to know - what does it take for employers to face
criminal responsibility when workers are killed on the job?"
The Westray Act amended the Criminal Code in 2004 to make corporations,
their directors and executives criminally accountable for the health
and safety of workers.
"Since 2004, more than 8,000 workers have been killed on the job in
Canada, yet not a single corporate executive or director has been
jailed for being criminally responsible - not one," said Ken Neumann,
USW National Director for Canada.
"These shocking statistics are the reason why the United Steelworkers is
launching a national campaign to urge provincial Attorneys General to
take all necessary steps to ensure greater enforcement of the Westray
Act," Neumann said.
"If the Westray Act is properly enforced, employers will be held to
account for putting workers' lives at risk and ultimately we will see
fewer fatalities," he said. "We are tired of workers' death and injury
being considered an acceptable cost of doing business."
"The ongoing lack of accountability for the Vale deaths reinforces our
union's demand for a commission of inquiry into mine safety in
Ontario," said Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director.
"There have been significant changes in the industry and far too many
deaths and injuries since the last health and safety inquiry was
conducted three decades ago," Fraser said.
"A provincial inquiry is overdue and critical to the health and safety
of workers throughout the industry."
The USW's full report on its investigation into the June 2011 fatalities
at Vale is available at www.usw.ca/valefatalities.
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Rick Bertrand, USW Local 6500 President, 705-675-3381
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5951
Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221