TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 17, 2012) - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) today wrote to the Toronto Police Service to call for a criminal investigation into the policies of Shell Canada and the possible role they played in Saturday night's death of a Toronto gas station attendant. Amid public outcry over the terrible death, allegations have surfaced that the owner/operator of the Shell franchise where the tragedy took place may have employed an unofficial policy of docking worker wages for gasoline theft that occurred on their shift.
"While police are chasing the killer who drove the SUV, they should also be investigating the corporate policies that may have set the terrible chain of events in motion," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "If Shell is allowing licensed franchise owners to force workers to pay from their pocket for stolen gas then both may be guilty of willfully putting workers' lives at risk."
After the incident, in which a gas station attendant was run over during pursuit of an SUV driver who stole $112 worth of gas, Shell Canada issued a statement saying that "under no circumstances are sales associates or any other retail employee to intervene during criminal activity." However, the company has a responsibility to ensure that this policy is enforced. Bill C-45 amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada allow employers to be held criminally responsible when negligence that causes the death or serious injury of employees.
"If the company is telling employees not to intervene in criminal activities then you can't have bosses blaming workers for customer theft and punishing them through docked wages. It would render the policy meaningless," said Sid Ryan. "Under no circumstances should a minimum wage gas station attendant earning $82 a shift have to watch their livelihood drive away with an SUV full of stolen gas."
The OFL launch it's "Kill a Worker, Go to Jail" campaign after the 2009 deaths of four migrant workers who fell from an East Toronto high rise. In July, that case ended with the criminal conviction of Metron Construction, Ontario's first such ruling since the law was changed in 2004 to respond to the Westray Mine disaster that claimed the lives of 26 workers.
"Workers want pay-at-the-pump laws to prevent this kind of tragedy, but we also want full justice for workers whose lives may be put at risk by employers who put profit ahead of workplace safety," said Ryan. "If Shell policies played any role in this tragedy, then the gas station owner and the company's CEO should be sitting in the same jail cell as the ruthless driver who snatched the life of an innocent worker."
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario.