OPSEU members to demonstrate for publicly-run safety enforcement

LONDON, ON, May 19 /CNW/ - Occupational health and safety inspectors working for the Ministry of Labour, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) will demonstrate this Thursday to protest the potential privatization of health and safety enforcement in Ontario.

    DATE:        Thursday, May 20, 2010
    TIME:        12 noon
    LOCATION:    Ministry of Labour, 217 York Street, London

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says that the Liberal government may be considering the privatization of occupational health and safety enforcement or making it the responsibility of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Either plan, Thomas says, will have a detrimental effect on workplace safety.

"Safety enforcement must be kept with public inspectors in the Ministry of Labour, a directly-run government body," Thomas said. "The Sunrise Propane explosion in 2008 is a prime example of what happens when safety standards are enforced by a private agency like the Technical Standards and Safety Authority."

Earlier this year, Labour Minister Fonseca appointed an expert panel to review Ontario's workplace safety system and recommend improvements to it. Alarmingly, there are no front-line health and safety enforcement staff on the panel or any of its working groups.

Len Elliott, an occupational health and safety inspector and president of OPSEU Local 101, says to have an expert panel without the actual front-line experts is an exercise in futility.

"We investigate the day-to-day incidents that cost 478 Ontario workers their lives last year," Elliott said. "If the Minister really wants improvements to workplace health and safety in this province, there are over a thousand of our members ready to tell him how to accomplish it."

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information: For further information: Len Elliott, (519) 857-4000

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