TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 6, 2014) - This morning's death of two men at First Nickel Inc.'s (FNI) Lockerby Mine near Sudbury has stunned the labour movement and spurred new demands for meaningful action. The deaths are reported by the company to be attributable to "a fall of ground, preceded by seismic activity".
This is an enormous tragedy for the family, friends and community and comes on the heels of the April 28 Day of Mourning in which the labour movement renewed its demands for safer workplaces and government action. Just prior to the Day of Mourning, three workers were killed at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter in Sudbury, a construction site in Ottawa and a plastics plant in Vaughan.
"How many times do we have to repeat ourselves," said a clearly frustrated OFL President Sid Ryan. "Over and over again, tragedy after tragedy, we are telling the government that workplaces are not as safe as they should be and they must act. Instead, we face complacence."
Ryan, who leapt into immediate action in the 2009 Metron scaffolding collapse that killed four workers and seriously injured a fifth, is again demanding the investigation be conducted according to Criminal Code of Canada protocols.
The OFL triggered a new campaign after the Metron deaths "Kill a Worker, Go to Jail," that calls for use of the Criminal Code sanctions when warranted. Known as the Westray Bill, it holds employers criminally liable when their negligence causes the death or serious injury of employee. Ontario has used it so infrequently as to almost ignore its existence.
"We do not know the details of what has happened today but every worker death in Ontario must be investigated under the Westray Bill C-45 guidelines. We must end these terrible deaths and injuries now," said Ryan.
In Ontario, a minimum of 243 workers died last year. Officially, the death toll now stands at 10,384 since 1979 when Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act began reporting but the real numbers are much higher and account for indescribable tragedy through generations.