Liberals, Conservatives must join NDP in supporting safer workplaces: Steelworkers

Says Bill C-4 limits workers' rights

The Harper Conservatives and Trudeau Liberals must join NDP leader Tom Mulcair and commit to making federally regulated workplaces safer, according to the United Steelworkers (USW).

"There are 1,000 work-related deaths in Canada each year and thousands more workers suffer serious injuries," said USW national director Ken Neumann.

"Canadians need a government that will rescind legislation that increases the risks faced by workers in federally regulated workplaces," Neumann said.

The USW is leading a national campaign, "Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law," calling for greater enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code aimed at holding employers and their directors accountable for workplace deaths and injuries.

"As a union that is actively campaigning across the country to eliminate workplace deaths, we see first-hand how Canadians need stronger — not weaker — occupational health and safety protections," said Stephen Hunt, USW western Canada director.

"New Democratic Leader Tom Mulcair has already publicly committed to repeal the regressive measures imposed by the Conservatives when they passed Bill C-4," Hunt noted. "It's time for all federal leaders to make the same commitment."

Bill C-4 changed the definition of a workplace hazard by removing all references to potential or future danger, including exposure to hazardous substances and long-term physical strain experienced by workers.

The legislation also removed all independent health and safety officers, limited the rights of workers to refuse unsafe work and prevented public servants from accessing the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal over workplace discrimination.

The changes made by the Conservatives affect workers in federally regulated industries such as railways, airlines and airports, telecommunications, radio and television broadcasting, uranium mining, fisheries and banking.

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