Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Work That Kills

by GLORIA BERGEN

Canadian ship yard workers Sean Ironside, Dave Rowley, Kenneth Priddle, and Krzysztof Rosicki will not be joining the millions of workers in the February 15 War Resistence demonstrations. Neither will loading dockworker William Colbert, or roughneck Aaron Toms, nor truck operator Mike Enman. But, do not blame them for not attending this global outpouring of humanity seeking justice and peace–the fault is not theirs–they are dead. Killed on the job–victims of a capitalist system that puts profit before human life.

With the numbers of Canadians that die in occupational accidents and occupational related illnesses can be estimated at more than 11,000 per year, and with the International Labour Organization’s estimation in 1999 that annual global occupational related deaths are 1.1 million, it would not take a huge leap of faith to call these deaths for what they are: class-genocide.

Globally, work-related deaths outnumber deaths from traffic accidents, war, violence, or HIV / AIDS. And these numbers do not even begin to touch upon the issue of the deaths of working class children and fetuses exposed to carcinogens, teratogens, mutagens, explosives, corrosives, toxins and environmental poisons.

If it weren’t enough for the Ontario ruling class to stop releasing reports on occupational injuries and illnesses during our last Labour Government, the Conservatives have now come up with a new way to impede investigations into environmental health and safety accidents and deaths in the workplace.

A legal precedant was set in June 2001 that can severely restrict regulatory inspectors’ statutory powers to investigate contraventions of environmental and health and safety legislation.

Up until this date, the regulatory powers of inspectors has included the right to go to a workplace after an accident, access the property, interview witnesses, take measurements, and seize items and documents that could be used as evidence.

Then, there was an environmental accident at Inco Limited, one of the world’s largest mining and metals companies and the world’s second largest producer of nickel. It appears that a quantity of wastes was discharged from the company and the enforcement officers went in.

Against the objections of corporate lawyers, inspectors conducted interviews, asked for documents relating to the discharges, and requested copies of Inco’s own sampling analysis and shut-down operating procedures. With this data in hand, Inco was subsequently charged with offenses under the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA).

Yet what was really on trial was not INCO’s breach of the OWRA and potential harm to the environment, but the powers of inspectors as outlined in the legislation that is almost identical in scope and wording to the powers of inspection found in Canadian provincial and federal oh&s legislation.

The case was appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which determined that inspectors cannot use their statutory investigation powers to investigate the commission of an offence. The court determined that If an officer has a reasonable belief that there has been a contravention of a regulatory statute, and aims to gather information that can be used in a prosecution, then a search warrant must be obtained. To do otherwise is to violate a corporation’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, under s.8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedom.

But what of the rights of Sean Ironside, Dave Rowley, Kenneth Priddle, and Krzysztof Rosicki? What of the rights of the families of William Colbert, Aaron Toms, or Mike Enman? Who will assure them that their deaths will be investigated fully and without prejudice? What department of the state will assure families of workers killed on the job that any evidence that may be held by the companies on whose property they died will not be destroyed, or tampered with prior to the receipt of a search warrant and consequent investigation?

All workers across Canada must show solidarity on February 15 to demonstrate for peace–for justice–and for the end of working class genocide and cover-ups by corporations and their friends in power.

GLORIA BERGEN is an environmental health and safety writer and presenter living in Toronto, Ontario. She can be reached at bergengloria@hotmail.com

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail