·  Media release

Hamilton Council Backs Steelworkers Campaign to Enforce Westray Law

HAMILTON - Hamilton city council is unanimously supporting a national campaign by the United Steelworkers (USW) aimed at better enforcement of legislation to hold employers accountable for workers' deaths.

City council unanimously passed a motion Wednesday in support of the USW's campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law. The campaign calls for better training for Crown prosecutors and police forces across Canada to ensure investigations of workplace deaths take full account of the so-called Westray Law provisions of the Criminal Code.

The Westray Law was passed unanimously in Parliament in 2004, in response to the 1992 Westray coalmine explosion in Nova Scotia that killed 26 miners.

The law is intended to hold corporate executives, directors and managers criminally accountable for workplace deaths. However, more than 9,000 Canadians have been killed on the job over the last decade, but not one corporate executive has faced a single day in jail.

Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council members and other USW representatives appeared before city council Wednesday to outline their national campaign for enforcement of the Westray Law.

"I commend you for going across the country and asking people to never forget the Westray mining disaster," said Hamilton Coun. Scott Duvall. A former Steelworkers local union president in Hamilton, Duvall spearheaded efforts at council to pass the motion supporting the USW campaign.

Supporters included Coun. Brad Clark, a former Progressive Conservative labour minister in Ontario.

"I understand and agree with what you are saying," Clark told the Steelworkers' delegation.

The Hamilton Police Association also has supported the motion.

"We appreciate the opportunity to appear before council," said Darren Green, Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council president. "It's quite clear that they all understand what we are trying to accomplish."

The USW is seeking support for its national campaign from municipal councils across the country. The campaign has been endorsed by city councils in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.

"We will continue to push for increased education and co-operation among Crown prosecutors, police forces and health and safety regulators. Workers are counting on us," said Sylvia Boyce, the USW's Director for Health and Safety in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

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Sylvia Boyce, USW District Director for Health and Safety, 905-741-9830, sboyce@usw.ca
Darren Green, Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, 905-719-4412
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca

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