If it’s the end of April, then it’s time for the Workers’ Day of Mourning. For 40 years, workers across the country have stopped to remember those who lost their lives on the job and to inspire workers to fight to prevent further tragedies. It’s widely considered a rare opportunity to make a point that only sometimes penetrates our common narrative: Are all workplaces as healthy and safe as they could be, and are they equally safe for everyone?
According to the WSIB Ontario, the number one workplace injury in 2021 and 2022 was sprains and strains. The second? COVID-19. CUPE Ontario notes that workers are “facing increased pressure to ‘get back to normal’”, and interestingly, workers have gotten “back to normal” in one very specific and disappointing way according to the WSIB… There were 255,318 claims in 2022, which is about 2,000 short of the 10-year high in 2019, right before the start of COVID.
In the wake of the pandemic, which despite what you may have heard is still not technically over, the pressure on workers, and the pressure to look out for their own health and safety, is immense. Staffing pressures are forcing workers to put in more hours, and increased workloads make it harder to focus on the so-called little things, like whether the work your doing is dangerous, or even if you’re qualified to do it. And what ever happened to 10 sick days?
This week, we will examine that and other questions with the President of CUPE Ontario Fred Hahn, and co-chair of CUPE’s Health and Safety Committee Brittany Nesbitt. They will talk about their personal thoughts on this year’s Day of Mourning, what health and safety issues they’re seeing right now, and the ongoing health and safety impacts from COVID-19. Plus, they will talk about empowering workers to look out for their rights and their concerns about the relaxing of child labour laws in some U.S. states.
So let’s talk health and safety on this week’s edition of the Guelph Politicast!
The Workers’ Day of Mourning is this Friday April 28. The Guelph commemoration hosted by the Guelph & District Labour Council takes place at Goldie Mill Park at 5:30 pm with local labour historian Bonnie Durtnall as the special guest speaker. You can learn about all the various CUPE campaigns and work actions at their website.
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