Steelworkers attack Wynne over mine inquiry – by staff (Sudbury Star – July 31, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Leaders of Ontario’s largest mining union are accusing Premier Kathleen Wynne of “callously” rejecting their calls for what they say is a long-overdue inquiry into mine safety.

“Premier Wynne appears unfazed by the fact that our mining communities have suffered scores of deaths and thousands of injuries since the government last examined mine safety in this province,” Marty Warren, United Steelworkers’ Ontario director, said in a release.

“We hoped the new premier would take this issue more seriously than her predecessor, but that is not the case,” Warren said. The Steelworkers have been calling for an inquiry since the deaths of two Sudbury miners, Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, at Vale’s Stobie Mine, in 2011.

“It’s disgraceful that the prem ier has no interest in discussing the pleas of the grieving families and co-workers of deceased miners, who know only too well that a mine safety inquiry in Ontario is long-overdue,” said Rick Bertrand, president of USW Local 6500, representing 2,600 mine workers in Sudbury. Bertrand and Warren said they sent a joint request to Wynne on May 16, asking to meet with the premier to make the case for a mine safety inquiry.

They said Wynne waited more than two months to respond, sending a letter dated July 24 that rejects a meeting and refers the matter back to Labour Minister Minister Yasir Naqvi.

“It has been more than 30 years since a provincial commission examined mine safety in Ontario,” Bertrand noted. “Given the toll of deaths and injuries and the dramatic changes in this industry over the last three decades, it defies belief that Kathleen Wynne and her government are opposed to this long-overdue inquiry.”

Wynne declined an interview when contacted by The Star and referred questions to Naqvi, who said the provincial government is committed to preventing injury in the workplace.

“One of our big objectives is that when workers go to work, especially in dangerous places like mines, that they make it home safely,” he said. “Our big goal is prevention.”

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