Mourning Workers Killed or Injured on the Job

May 1, 2013

Last week people around the world held gatherings and took moments of silence in recognition of the Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job.

Each year MoveUP writes to all its employers asking them to join us in recognizing the day and committing to build safer workplaces. Many do not respond, but the union recognizes those who do. This year we thank the Telecommunication Worker Pension Plan, Piledrivers Local 2404, BCAA, Accenture, BC Hydro, FortisBC and TransLink for taking a moment along with our members to mourn those who have been killed or injured on the job or who suffer from occupational illness. If your workplace held a ceremony or moment of silence and was not mentioned here, please let us know so we can ensure they receive recognition.

MoveUP would like to particularly acknowledge BC Hydro this year for installing memorial plaques in recognition of those who have been injured or killed in service to our public utility. The plaques have been unveiled at the new Trades Training Centre, as well as Edmonds, Dunsmuir, and LMS in Surrey. They will serve as a needed reminder to all about the importance of workplace safety.

Our union was honoured to participate in the unveilings at Edmonds and Dunsmuir on April 26. Vice President Gwenne Farrell spoke at the Dunsmuir ceremony. As well, our occupational health and safety representative, Steve Milne, spoke at the Edmonds ceremony and reminded those attending about the scale of the problem.

Even in Canada, he pointed out, approximately 1000 workers die each year, almost three per day. Another 250,000 workers suffer a work-related injury, illness or occupational disease.

According to the WCB, in BC – just in 2012 – 181 workers were killed. Four of them were less than 24-years-old.

Turning back to BC Hydro specifically, Milne recognized the improvements that have been made by the Safety Task Force as well as the work that still needs to be done:

“Let us all work together: union, management, office staff, field staff – as you are the ones who know your jobs and the hazards that are present in your work. Please be part of the solution in making BC Hydro a healthy & safe place to work so everyone goes home each night.”

On Sunday, April 28, MoveUP representatives attended the annual Day of Mourning ceremony hosted by the BC Federation of Labour, this year in conjunction with the Vancouver District Labour Council. The solemn event was held at the Fishermen’s Memorial in Garry Point Park, Steveston. Speakers representing labour councils and local unions took to the podium and spoke about general workplace safety issues, as well as specific cases of people they’ve known who have suffered workplace injury of illness.

As is traditional, attendees who had lost a family member were invited to place flowers on the memorial and then all other attendees had a chance to place a rose in memory of the workers whose lives have been lost.