Fines Not Enough, Jail Time Needed to Stop Employee Deaths, say Steelworkers

TORONTO, July 13, 2012 /CNW/ - "Four workers were killed and no top executive is going to see jail time. That's the crime," said Ken Neumann, National Director of the United Steelworkers (USW). While Metron Construction was fined $200,000, the charges against the president of the company were dropped.

"Steelworkers are pushing for the Westray Act to be enforced. The Metron sentence highlights the continued need for the justice community to be better educated on the Westray Act," Neumann said.

In 2004, Westray amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada made it easier to hold corporations, managers and directors criminally liable for failing to keep their employees safe.

"Unfortunately, prosecutors, police forces and attorneys general have failed to use the legislation," said Wayne Fraser, USW Ontario and Atlantic Canada director.

"Just yesterday another worker was killed at work, at a construction site in Markham. It's a tragedy. Workers shouldn't be risking their lives by going to work," said Fraser. 

From 2004-2010, there were 7,045 workplace deaths in Canada, but not a single corporate executive or director has been jailed.

"We're still waiting to hear from the Ontario Attorney General about potential criminal charges in the deaths of two Vale miners in 2011," Fraser said.

"If the Westray Act were enforced, maybe then negligent bosses would change their ways and keep workers safe," Neumann said.

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the tragic explosion that killed 26 miners in Nova Scotia, the Steelworkers have launched a campaign to raise the profile of the Westray Act for members of all levels of the justice system.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director, 416-544-5951
Denis St. Pierre, United Steelworkers, dstpierre@usw.ca, 416-544-5990


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