By David F. Rooney
Local workers and unionists marched from RSS along Mackenzie past City Hall and then down to the stone memorial by Centennial Park on Wednesday to commemorate workers who have been killed or seriously injured on the job.
“This is a day we remember the dead but we fight for the living,” Teamsters President Bill Brehl told the railway and forestry workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers and others who gathered at the monument.
“We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers — we are. Our safety is too important to be left in the hands of management — any management. We are not a bottom line — we are people. Our safety is not expensive. It’s priceless. You do not cut costs if it is going to cost lives.”
Canada and British Columbia have some of the world’s best laws regarding safety on the job yet last year 121 workers died on job, Michelle Cole of the Columbia Shuswap District Labour Council said.
“We need the resources to enforce the laws,” she said. “We need the resolve to enforce them.”
City Councillor Phil Welock spoke to the crowd on behalf of Council and recalled his days as a coroner and having to deal with the death of a Mountie and a fatal plane crash. His heart went out to the families left behind. He urged employers and workers to respect and obey the laws that exist to maintain workplace safety.
This was the first time workers have marched on this day and while that may have been new, it ended with a moment of silence and the sweet playing of Amazing Grace by Revelstoke Highlanders bagpipers Louisa Dubasov and Archie McConnachie.
Here are images from the event, as well as a video of the remarks by Michelle Cole, Phil Welock and Bill Brehl.