SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, Feb. 4, 2014 /CNW/ - Representatives of the United Steelworkers (USW) and Sault Ste. Marie residents received unanimous support from city council Monday for a national campaign aimed at better enforcement of a law to hold corporations, their directors and executives criminally accountable for workplace death.
The "Westray Law" was passed unanimously in Parliament a decade ago. It came in response to the horrific Westray coalmine explosion in Nova Scotia that killed 26 miners on May 9, 1992, and after a strong lobby campaign to demand "No More Westrays."
However, in the decade since, more than 9,000 Canadians have been killed on the job, yet not one corporate executive has faced a single day in jail.
In response, the United Steelworkers union has launched a national campaign asking provincial Attorneys-General to take steps to enforce the Westray Law. The motion to Sault Ste. Marie city council, submitted by Coun. Joe Krmpotich, was followed by a presentation highlighting the impact of lax enforcement on the community.
"Families are struggling with the fact that their loved ones went to work only to die there," said Krmpotich.
He cited examples, including Rocky Scullino, who was killed at Essar Algoma in 2008 when a 110-kilogram piece of iron fell on him. The company said his death "had no impact on operations." In 2009 James Vecchio was killed at the Sault landfill site when a mobile crane contracted by the city fell on him and crushed him. In 2012 Tyler Quarrell was killed at Eternal Monuments when a piece of granite fell on him.
"All of these workers and the thousands more who have been killed across Canada leave families to mourn them for all time," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.
"Municipal councils are leaders in their respective communities. With so many fatalities across the country, enforcing the Westray Law is clearly an issue for municipal councils to endorse."
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)