[Mining Fatalities] ‘Never give up fight,’ Sudburians told – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star -April 29, 2016)


Workers should fight to have inquests into mining deaths conducted sooner than four, five, six or even seven years after employees are killed on the job, to spare their families years of extra suffering, says a labour leader.

Families must relive, often in excruciating detail, accounts of how their loved ones died when coroner’s inquests are held. Delaying the inquiries only adds to the agony of families struggling to get on with their lives, according to Rick Bertrand.

The president of United Steelworkers Local 6500 said his union participated in two inquests in the last year, one in May 2015 into the June 2011 deaths of Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram at Vale’s Stobie Mine. The other was the inquest held in February into the January 2012 death of Stephen Perry at Vale’s Coleman Mine.

Bertrand spoke to more than 200 people at a luncheon marking the Day of Mourning, which recognizes workers who are injured or die on the job, or suffer from industrial disease.

Coroner’s inquests into mining deaths are mandatory in Ontario, and produce recommendations to prevent future fatalities.

Twenty-four recommendations were made by the jury at the Chenier and Fram inquest, and the joint health and safety committee of USW and Vale has begun to implement them, said Bertrand.

Ten recommendations emerged from the Perry inquest and work has started on those as well, he said.

“We’re happy we’re able to implement them with Vale,” Bertrand said at the second of two services held Thursday to mark the Day of Mourning, which began in Sudbury more than 30 years ago and is now held in 120 countries around the world.

The first was held by the Sudbury & District Labour Council at Laurentian University’s Fraser Auditorium.

USW Local 6500 has a trained team of members who represent families and the union at inquests. Some lawyers say the union representatives often do a better job of presenting complex material to juries and asking pertinent questions of lawyers than lawyers themselves.

Another inquest will eventually be held into the April 6, 2014, death of millwright Paul Rochette who was killed when a large pin from the ore crushing machine he was working on at Vale’s Copper Cliff Smelter Complex flew up and hit him in the head.

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