March 10, 2014 4:11 pm
Updated: March 10, 2014 5:52 pm

Campaign calls on employers to create safer working conditions


PLYMOUTH, N.S. – A single wreath was laid Monday afternoon to honour the 26 victims of the May 9, 1992 Westray mine explosion in Plymouth.

It was the first stop on a cross-Canada tour to raise awareness about a national campaign called Stop The Killing: Enforce The Law.

“We’re starting it here because this is where we think it all started,” said Stephen Hunt, director of United Steelworkers district 3.

Vernan Theriault, who was scheduled to work the day the mine exploded, helped out with the rescue operation.

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“I got a call from my sister at 5:30 in the morning she was hoping to hear my voice,” he said.

The accident had happened before his shift.

“She heard the sirens on the way home. I told her it was probably just another cave in,” he said.

“After the mine blew up, I was in rough shape for years.”

In 2003, the “Westray Bill” was passed by the House of Commons. The act says managers and CEOs who fail to protect their employees can be held criminally liable. It has only been used three times in Canada.

With 1,000 workers dying on the job each year, Canada has one of the worst safety records in the developed world.

In the decade since the Westray Bill was introduced, there has been an increase in workplace fatalities.

“Since the Westray Bill has come into play, there’s been 9,000 people that lost their lives, and not a single person has gone to jail for those travesties,” said Ken Neumann, the national director for United Steelworkers.

Members of the United Steelworkers union say they will travel to towns and cities across the country to spread the message that something needs to be done to protect workers.

“People don’t go to work to die, that’s not a good job” said Hunt.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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