VANCOUVER — CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill will join CUPE members at the UBC campus on Monday (April 28) to honour workers who have died due to work-related injuries and occupational diseases and to stand up for safe working conditions.
“At a time when employers everywhere are focusing on employee wellness, UBC is getting hit by Worksafe almost monthly with directives to comply with cleaning up an unhealthy and unsafe workplace,” says O’Neill.
“On this campus alone, there were over 300 workplace injuries last year. That is totally unacceptable. UBC needs to show that it supports the workers it employs, and it needs to back up its words with actions.”
Throughout B.C., an average of three workers lose their lives each week. O’Neill says that safety is everyone’s responsibility and that employers need to do whatever is necessary to ensure that workers go home safe at the end of each day.
At Monday’s event, one of several being held throughout the province to mark the annual National Day of Mourning for workers killed on the job, CUPE members from the campus locals, and other workers, will rally at the flagpole at the Main Mall and Crescent Road at 11:00 am and walk to the Workers’ Memorial site (between the Chan Centre and the Rose Garden). At 11:25 am the crowd will hear from O’Neill, the three CUPE local presidents, and a representative of UBC’s student union.
Safety statistics in B.C. show that on average three workers die each week, more than 3,000 workplace injuries are reported weekly, and 20 workers are permanently disabled every working day.
Regarding the April 28 events, O’Neill pledged, “We will mourn for the dead—but we’ll fight for the living. All workers have a right to a safe workplace. So we need to stop hazards that are unrecognized or ignored. We need proper training for workers. And we need a government that will enforce the laws that already exist. If these kinds of deaths were not preventable, we wouldn’t have to keep doing these events year after year.”
CUPE at UBC represents the men and women who keep the university running smoothly – clerical workers, maintenance and security workers, and sessional workers.
Contact: Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president: 604.340.6768, Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: 604.999.6132