Labour council president Ellen Oxman expresses a wish that next year there will be no workplace deaths to report. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Workplace bullying is new challenge for labour: Day of Mourning message

With heartfelt remembrances and hopes for a safer future, the Valley remembers fallen workers

Workplace bullying is the focus for Canada’s unions, Ellen Oxman, president of the Nanaimo, Duncan & District Labour Council, told the crowd at the Cowichan Valley’s Day of Mourning ceremony April 28.

Held at Lake Cowichan’s Forestworkers Memorial Park, the event moved under the gazebo roof this year as rain greeted the larger than usual crowd who turned out for the event.

Oxman read out the union movement’s statement for the National Day of Mourning, aimed at drawing attention to the significant number of people who have died, been seriously injured or made ill because of their work.

“We do this to demand action from government and to insist on increased vigilance from employers so that every worker comes home healthy and safe after a shift. In 2017, 198 B.C. workers were killed on the job or died from occupational diseases. That’s 198 too many — especially when we know every workplace death, injury or illness is preventable,” Oxman said.

“We must do better. We must ensure workers’ full, active participation in all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. We must hold employers to account when there is negligence, hold government and the regulator to account when there are weak laws and weak enforcement, and demand full compensation for workers and their families facing life-altering circumstances.

“This year we are also turning our attention to workplace violence, because for too many workers violence and harassment, including sexual harassment and intimate partner violence, is a common occurrence on the job. We all have a responsibility to challenge workplace violence and harassment when we see it — the labour movement, employers, the regulator and the government. Turning away perpetuates the problem, and works to silence the damage it has on people’s lives.

“On this National Day of Mourning, we remember all those who have lost their lives, been injured or become ill because of their work. And we honour the families, friends and co-workers who are left behind, or who must care for their family members who have been seriously injured or sick. And we recommit to doing everything we can to make B.C. workplaces healthier and safer. Today we will mourn for the dead, and fight for the living,” Oxman concluded.

Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest was among several people who also spoke at the ceremony, emotionally sharing how he came to lose his leg when, at age four, he climbed into a sawdust truck without the driver’s knowledge.

“I don’t blame the truck driver. He was doing his job. It wasn’t his fault. It was my fault. But I also recognize the impact it had on him. That’s what happens. That’s why people should be safe.” he said.

Lori Iannidinardo, who represented the CVRD at the event, said that many families have been severely affected by injuries as well as deaths in the forest industry.

“I was one of the lucky ones. We were one of the families who continue to support forestry workers and we still have forestry workers in our family.”

She said she hopes that by next year, there will be no more work-related deaths to report.

 

Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest tells the story of how he lost his leg. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Forest worker and Lake Cowichan Coun. Tim McGonigle tells the crowd that they can buy bricks in the memorial park to remember loved ones. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Just Posted

Lexi Bainas column: A columnful of Oktoberfest, musicals, books, galleries, and more. Down the hatch!

It’s an exciting autumn and events are ‘falling’ on us from every angle this week.

Fiscal responsibility key for Mike Wilson, seeking election to Area C director

The decisions made by local government directly impact our community and our quality of life

Cowichan Third Division men pull together to shut down visiting Comox

Juniors and over-40s bolster roster in lopsided victory

VIDEO: Vancouver Island University gets $150K infusion from Island Savings

It’s going to enhance several programs and increase opportunities for students

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Cowichan Coffee Time: 4H, a marathon and fundraising

• A group of 4H-ers had a woolly good time at the… Continue reading

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read