Day of Mourning for Workers Injured or Killed on the Job
We meet once again to acknowledge those who have been killed or injured trying to earn money to support themselves and their families.
Too many workers around the world pay an unacceptable price so that corporations can continue to earn huge profits. Why do we accept this?
When are we going to insist that our physical and psychological well-being are not acceptable sacrifices so that we may provide a decent standard of living for ourselves and our loved ones?
We all have a responsibility to work toward achieving safe working conditions for workers around the world. Unfortunately, we often look the other way. For example, why do we continue to buy clothing that we know is made in sweatshops, where workers are exploited shamelessly and working conditions are unacceptably dangerous?
If we let employers get away with violating safety regulations and jeopardizing workers in other countries do we honestly believe that it won’t happen here?
We are seeing governments in this country allow industries to move toward self regulation for the enforcement of health and safety standards, particularly when it comes to workplace inspections and accountability. Why? Not because it is a better way to apply those health and safety standards. No, on the contrary, it is because it is easier to circumvent and minimize them not to mention less costly.
We’ve seen mill explosions in this province where people got killed because no-one took responsibility for ensuring that proper safety standards were enforced. We see that the agency supposedly empowered to ensure compliance, WorkSafe, did not have the proper tools, authority or desire to do the job.
We see a move on the part of the airline industry in this country to reduce the number of flight attendants not because it in any way enhances worker or passenger safety but because it reduces costs. The federal government agreed with them.
The federal government has amended health and safety legislation to weaken the law to reflect that something is only a danger to worker health and safety if it poses an imminent or serious threat. What about potential threats to health and safety? What about long term consequences such as occupational diseases?
Last year across the country, 6 CUPE members died on the job. So far this year, 5 have died. In 7 of those tragedies working alone was a factor.
In this province we have seen the government move away from properly enforcing laws on working alone such as Grant’s law. Why? Because the law is costly to employers.
Corporate profits should not and cannot come at the expense of workers life and health. Far too many workers, even in our own city are working alone and exposed to hazards and danger.
We must continue to be vigilant and keep up the struggle for decent and enforced health and safety regulations and legislation. The cost is too high if we don’t.