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The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552
Fax: 604-267-3342

Web: www.columbiajournal.ca



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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Two    April 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca

    Day of Mourning—April 28

    For Everyone Injured or Killed on the Job

    Dave Thompson

    Each year in our country families are decimated by an all to common occurrence: the death or maiming of a loved one in a job related accident. All to often workers are put into situations that threaten their health and safety, many times with disastrous consequences.
     
    These accidents affect not only the victim, but have long-term implications for their family, friends and co-workers. Furthermore, there is the direct and indirect impact on our medical system.

    There are many reasons for industrial accidents, but there are few answers, solutions or resolve to stop the carnage. In fact, in British Columbia the safety of workers has taken a back seat to profits. This was made clear by the BC Liberal Government when it embarked on a deregulation, at any cost, rampage.

    The work put into drafting the latest edition of the Workers Compensation Board regulations was monumental and inclusive. Members from labour and the employer community were assembled to write the regulations on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Committee consensus was necessary before the regulations were put out to public hearings. The process took years and resulted in a set of regulations endorsed by both sides.

    Contrast this with the current government's mandate to eliminate regulations for the sake of “streamlining.” The WCB has been revamped by the Liberals to aid their financial backers. How do they accomplish this? By removing safety regulations that would incur cost to the employer. The pay off is in profits to the businesses. The cost is to the workers and their families.

    Less regulation means a reduced safety program in the workplace. Government cutbacks to the WCB mean less enforcement of regulations and consequently more accidents and injuries. The combination of reduced enforcement and a weak regulator regime becomes a potent brew for disaster.

    Every year on April 28, workers and their families gather to remember their loved ones on the National Day of Mourning. This day has been set aside to remember those people killed on the job.

    It has also become, for many in the labour movement, a day to steel our resolve to make things better for working people. I say steel our resolve because that is what it takes to fight for workers' rights to a safe workplace. It is amazing how much resolve it takes when we are faced by governments bent on profit, not people; how much resolve it takes when facing cold politicians, whose only agenda is to reduce the number of citizens appearing at their offices with compensation complaints.

    Some seem to find it easier to blame the worker. Take for instance the worker who sustained permanent debilitating injuries after two logging accidents. He was found not to be at fault in both cases. Liberal MLA, Kevin Kruger, upon being told the story by the victim, attempted to blame him for surely he according to Kruger “must have been responsible.” It was an insensitive yet telling display rarely seen by one civilized human being toward another.

    The National Day of Mourning is held throughout Canada to pay our respects and offer our condolences to the families of fellow workers killed on the job.

    Please plan to be a part of a ceremony in your community.

    Dave Thompson is a freelance journalist, labour activist and organizer and regular contributor to the Columbia Journal.


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