CUPE members remember the dead and pledge to continue the fight for the living
VICTORIA – Over 300 people gathered Saturday morning to honour the 142 workers in BC who died at work and the thousands more who were injured in 2011.
CUPE 50, CUPE BC and the Victoria Labour Council organized the extremely well-attended Day of Mourning event that included speakers Victoria Labour Council President Mike Eso, Compensation Employees’ Union Director David Clarabut, Victoria City Councillor Ben Isitt, CUPE National President Paul Moist and CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill.
Eso talked about the history of the Day of Mourning and said that we must call on the provincial and federal government to do more.
“Far too many workers die in this province,” said Clarabut. “The health and safety rights we have today were earned on the backs of our brothers and sisters; we must take ownership of these rights and honour them.”
Isitt called for stiffer penalties against employers who contribute to the problem and turn a blind eye to safety policies and procedures.
Moist remembered CUPE workers across the country who died at work in 2011. Anne Marie Chassie and Ute Merritt, were flight attendants who died in a plane crash near Resolute, NU that also claimed the lives of eight passengers and two pilots. And Stephanie Chaisson, a receptionist at a medical clinic in De Grau, NL, was gunned down at work by her estranged husband.
O’Neill urged members to recommit themselves to the fight for a safe workplace and to continue fighting for the living.
“I’ve been to way too many of these events over the years,” said O’Neill. “The next generation is dependent on us to stop these tragedies from happening.”
In 1984 CUPE’s National Health and Safety Committee proposed the idea for a day to honour workers injured or killed at work. This year marks the 28th National Day of Mourning which was recognized in more than a hundred countries around the world.