Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grey-Bruce Labour Council Delivers Message of Solidarity to Striking Steelworkers at Vale Inco

On March 22nd thousands of workers, union and non-union alike, will be in Sudbury to tell “Vale Inco that imposing its way of doing things on Canadian workers is unacceptable. In light of the recent celebrations of International Women’s day and Anti-Racism Day Labour Council President, Dave Trumble is clear in his message of support to the members of the United Steelworkers and the workers that will rally in support of the Steelworkers at Vale Inco; “We have to get the message to foreign corporations that they cannot import anti-union strategies to Ontario and Canada. In the company’s Brazilian operations, workers are not laid off, but terminated without cause. They have no seniority rights, no access to grievance and arbitration procedures and health and safety standards are extremely low”.

The 3,000 Steelworkers at Vale Inco are clearly holding the line for all workers and people of social conscience. Many in the business community will say that Vale Inco’s actions are necessary to make Vale Inco competitive in to-day’s global market. In response to this Len Hope, Labour Council Executive Member and Pension advocate, points to numerous profitable Canadian Companies such as Inco in the days before the feeble excuse of globalization permitted Vale’s Brazilian type punitive style of business and labour relations to take hold. Hope says that “globalization has been the excuse for too long for unwarranted, perhaps unprecedented, punitive attacks on Canadian workers and in the end a way of life that no Canadian should ever permit to be threatened, no matter where the threat comes from”.

The Grey-Bruce Labour Council, and the thousands of workers that find their voice in the Council stand in solidarity with the members of the United Steelworkers and all workers who will rally in support of the Vale Inco workers and the fight to maintain not only their collective rights in Sudbury, but in a very real way the society of fairness and social responsibility that has and must define Canadians and Canadian society going forward.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kill a Worker, go to jail

Twelve years after the Westray mine disaster of 1992 the Criminal Code of Canada was amended by Bill C-45. Bill C-45 allowed for prosecutions of corporate executives, directors and managers who wrongfully or neglect to uphold their responsibilities to make and keep workplaces (large and small) healthy and safe. The successful passing of the amendment had little to do with political will and more to do with the work of United Steelworkers for whom the Westray mine disaster meant the loss of 26 of their brothers.

As of to-day no executive, director or manager resides in prison as a result of the amendment and a successful prosecution. The fact that hundreds of workers in Ontario alone have lost their lives since 2004 and over two Million workers have been injured is proof enough that executives, directors and mangers across Ontario and Canada who neglect their health and safety responsibilities have not had a change of heart such that Bill C-45 is not needed. Never more true is the opposite; they have simply been able to avoid successful prosecution under C-45 even if they were in many cases successful prosecuted under various provincial acts such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

It may be that the end is near, for those in a position of corporate power who wrongfully or neglect to uphold their responsibilities to make and keep workplaces healthy and safe, as Millennium Crane Rentals Ltd. will appear in court this week on charges of criminal negligence causing death following a fatal accident last spring, according to an article published yesterday at The charges are as a result of Bill C-45, according to the article.

By charging Millennium Crane Rentals Ltd. law enforcement in this case is making it clear to employers that if they kill a worker they are going to jail. The Labour movement under the leadership of the Ontario Federation of Labour has called for a criminal investigation into the Christmas Eve tragedy that took the lives of four construction workers and seriously injured a fifth. There is no doubt that as this plays out Bill C-45 will be very much on the minds of the investigators and on those that acted in such a way as to cause these deaths and injuries.

Plainly and simply, the time has come for corporate leaders and trade union leaders who put safety as their first priority to push as hard as possible for the maximum penalties under the law for corporate leaders who choose to do otherwise.

Dave Trumble
Grey-Bruce Labour Council