Sid Ryan: Anything to get publicity

Sid Ryan knows the rules when it comes to a workplace fatality.

The Ministry of Labour investigates, the police review the Ministry’s report, and the police will investigate further and lay charges if the circumstances warrant.  An Inquest is also held, and the findings of the Coroner’s Jury can result in a police investigation regardless of the Ministry’s report.

While it may take some time for the wheels to turn, one would think that any criminal responsibility would be uncovered, and criminal sanctions applied where necessary.  The system is basically sound.

But, that is not good enough for the likes of Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

The various wheels have barely had chance to begin turning, and yet Brother Sid is already demanding that the police conduct a criminal investigation on the apparent grounds that the application of the presently-existing fines is insufficient to deter employers from putting profit ahead of worker safety.

Such a presumption of guilt is stunningly contrary to what I was taught as a Shop Steward.  A person is assumed innocent until proven guilty, and I have rigidly adhered to that not just as a union officer, but in my own life and in the conduct of my affairs.  Police officers are invariably suspended with full pay and benefits even after committing the most obvious abuses of civilians, and I have always supported that.

Not because I want to, or because I sympathise with the offenders, but because it is the right thing to do.  Indeed, to act otherwise would be to open the doors to an entirely different world in which human and moral rights would become meaningless, and  I do not want to live in a world like that.

With regards to workplace accidents and fatalities, we already have a system in place that should be sufficient to uncover and punish any disregard for workplace safety on the part of supervisors and employers.  No system is perfect, and if Brother Ryan is unhappy with the provisions of the Workplace Health and Safety Act then he should lobby the politicians for changes to be made.

Clearly, he feels that a case can be made that the current sanctions against employers who contravene the Act are insufficient and should be strengthened, and he should be at Queen’s Park meeting with the Minister of Labour to lobby for changes.

Then again, it is entirely possible that the doors of power are closed to him as the result of his ‘doctrinaire socialism’ and his unswerving support for such groups as the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) which has caused major riots and disturbances at Queen’s Park.  OCAP activists trashed then-provincial Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s offices in Whitby some years ago, causing damage and terrorising his staff.

In my opinion, Sid Ryan would rather have the quick ‘high’ of getting his name in the papers, than undertake the plodding, hard work necessary to have real changes made by those who have the power and authority to do so.

His job is to represent the day-to-day interests of the workers, not to promote himself and his particular brand of politics.

For shame, Sid.  Get yourself over to Queen’s Park, if you still can, and do your job.

Jeff Goodall.

Labour group calls for criminal investigation into York construction fatality

Toronto Star
Alyshah Hasham: Oct. 13th, 2011

The Ministry of Labour investigation into the fatal construction accident at York University is ongoing, however the Ontario Federation of Labour is asking police to conduct a parallel investigation into whether criminal negligence was involved.

The Ministry of Labour investigations often result in fines, said Sid Ryan, president of the OFL. However, the fines are not enough to deter employers from putting profit before workplace safety, he said. Criminal charges and a jail sentence on the other hand, could spur change. In the time since the criminal code was amended in 2003 to include criminal negligence provisions, no criminal convictions have been made, said Ryan.

It is unknown whether criminal negligence played a role in this case. The ministry has not provided any updates to their continuing investigation.

Toronto police are not currently conducting an investigation into negligence, said police spokesperson Const. Victor Kwong. The police usually wait until the ministry investigation is complete before deciding whether to pursue the matter, he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, a massive drilling rig toppled over onto two smaller machines, including a front-end loader operated by Kyle Knox, 24, from Stouffville. Knox was killed and five other men were injured, including the drill operator, who was rushed to hospital with a broken femur.

The construction workers were excavating the site of a new York University subway station, part of the Spadina subway line expansion.

A coroner’s inquest will be conducted into Kyle Knox’s death — standard procedure in the case of any construction death, said Mike Gallagher, business manager of Knox’s union, Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

See original here.

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