TORONTO, July 2 2015 /CNW/ - The recent conviction of a Metron Construction boss on criminal negligence charges for killing four workers in 2009 should result in a jail sentence, says Marty Warren, Ontario/Atlantic Director of the United Steelworkers (USW).
"This case illustrates exactly why our union has been fighting long and hard to have workplace fatalities and injuries investigated as criminal events," said Warren. "These convictions are too few and far between and the consequences of killing workers has to be more than a fine. Death should not be a cost of doing business. Time in jail is absolutely appropriate in this case."
USW National Director Ken Neumann said the national campaign to enforce the 2004 Westray law, amendments to the Criminal Code, is aimed at ending the continuing carnage in Canada's workplaces.
"We call our campaign 'Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law' because that is exactly what has to happen," said Neumann. "Every year 1,000 workers are killed on the job and too few corporations are held criminally accountable."
Neumann said the USW-led campaign is gaining momentum across the country as municipal councils, police associations, Aboriginal groups and others endorse the goals of the campaign, to ensure that:
- Crown attorneys are educated, trained and directed to apply the Westray amendments;
- Dedicated prosecutors are given the responsibility for health and safety fatalities;
- Police are educated, trained and directed to apply the amendments;
- There is greater coordination among regulators, police and Crowns so that health and safety regulators are trained to reach out to police when there is a possibility that Westray amendment charges are warranted.
Steve Hunt, the USW's Western Canada Director, said the examples of negligence are growing, with no justice for families of victims.
"Inquiries and inquests are important, but they have not stopped the pain and anguish of families who are faced with the death of loved ones," said Hunt. "There must be more political commitment to enforce the law. It's not rocket science."
Neumann added: "We call on all provinces and territories, through their attorneys-general, to do the right thing and ensure that all workers are protected and all employers are held accountable," added Neumann. "Workers are not disposable."
More details on the campaign to Stop the Killing, including video testimony from families who have lost loved ones, can be found at www.stopthekilling.ca.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Marty Warren, USW District Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, [email protected], 519-504-9098; Ken Neumann, USW National Director, [email protected], 416-544-5966; Gerry Leblanc, USW Head of Health & Safety, [email protected], 416-209-2280; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, [email protected], 416-434-2221