Lack of criminal charges in mine worker's death highlights need for
Westray Act enforcement, says United Steelworkers
BURNABY, BC, Oct. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) is
considering pursuing a private prosecution after the B.C. Criminal
Justice Branch decided not to lay criminal charges in the death of mine
worker John Wilson.
"We have legislation in this country to hold corporations and their
executives criminally responsible when workers' lives are put at risk,
but this legislation is not being enforced," says Stephen Hunt, the
USW's western Canadian Director.
"The tragic death of John Wilson is further evidence that changes are
required to ensure enforcement of the Westray legislation that was
enacted in 2004," Hunt says. "More than 8,000 Canadians have been
killed at work since then, but the Westray legislation has never been
used to put a single corporate executive or manager in jail."
John Wilson was killed in February 2008 at Craigmont Mine near Merritt,
B.C., when his excavator overturned into a tailings dam. He drowned.
A B.C. Ministry of Mines investigation determined the company violated
several provisions of the Mines Act and the Health and Safety
Reclamation Code for Mines.
Among those violations, the investigation determined that "the mine
manager failed to ensure that the workplace was free of hazardous
conditions, and specifically, failed to ensure that third-party
affixments to mobile equipment did not pose a hazard to the operator
when working in and near water."
The USW is spearheading a national campaign to stop the killing of
workers and demand greater enforcement of the Westray legislation, Hunt
The legislation was enacted in response to the Westray coal mine
explosion that killed 26 workers in Nova Scotia on May 9, 1992.
"After the horror of Westray, politicians of all stripes were eager to
declare their support for the Westray Bill and promise that no more
Canadian workers would needlessly lose their lives because of the
negligence of corporations. They've failed to live up to their
promises," Hunt said.
"When a law isn't being enforced, it's incumbent on elected officials at
every level of government to fix it. While politicians talk, 1,000
Canadians continue to be killed at work each year. It's time for real
action to protect the safety of every worker in every province."
The union's national campaign will seek support from Canadians to
highlight the lack of enforcement of the Westray Bill and lobby the
federal and provincial governments to work cooperatively to ensure the
safety of workers.
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Stephen Hunt, USW District 3 Director, 604-816-2554
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-683-1117, 604-754-1174, firstname.lastname@example.org