Mill workers today in Williams Lake halted production by one minute of silence this morning to mark today’s national day of mourning.
Cariboo Regional District Area F Director Joan Sorley says the day really is a true partnership of every sector in our society.
“People seem to think that the Day of Mourning is a union thing and it is not. The Labour Congress certainly is a partner in it but Work BC is also a partner and businesses as well.”
Premier Christy Clark says that they have made improvements to ensure safety in workplaces throughout the province, but even one life lost or one serious injury is one too many.
She says we must all work together to build a culture of safety that makes workplace tragedies a thing of the past and ensure everyone goes home to their families safely at the end of every workday.
Terry Tate with the United Steelworkers says within his 42 years of industry he thought he saw it all in terms of the fatal Babine mill explosion near Burns Lake back in 2012.
He says the injuries went a lot deeper then just the workers because the supervisors, foreman, managers, and human resources are living today with tremendous guilt that maybe they could have done something differently or more to have prevented what happened.
122 workers, 72 of which were from an occupational disease, lost their lives in a work-related tragedy in British Columbia last year.
The BC Federation of Labour, along with the Canadian Labour Congress, Provincial Federations of Labour and unions across Canada are making a call to action for a comprehensive ban on asbestos–the hidden killer.
“I spent a lot of time in the pulp and paper industry,” says Sorley.
“I can’t even tell you how many people died in that mill. Many of them were close colleagues and that’s devastating to everybody when somebody dies. It’s always been personal in that way. I’ve lost family members; my brother lost his leg, I’ve lost friends, and now I’m moving friends to asbestos-related diseases from that mill.”
In BC, hundreds of workers are exposed to asbestos during demolition, renovation and excavation activities as a result of unidentified asbestos-containing materials or poor asbestos abatement practices.
It is estimated that every year more than 145,000 Canadian workers are exposed to asbestos at their workplaces and tragically over 2,000 are diagnosed with fatal asbestos-related cancers and other diseases.