Miners’ Deaths Inspired Union to Push for Criminal Code Change

United Steelworkers Vowed: ‘No More Westrays’

An extraordinary lobbying effort by the United Steelworkers’ union has led to the passage of a bill that amends the Criminal Code of Canada to make organizations criminally liable for workplace injuries and deaths that arise from negligence.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Peter Boyle, President of Steelworkers’ Local 343 in Kingston, Ontario, of the union’s decision to take up the cause of the 26 men who perished in the Westray mine explosion in Stellarton, N.S., at 5:18 a.m. on May 9, 1992. Westray was a tragedy that could have been avoided had the owners not allowed dangerous levels of methane gas to accumulate in the mine. Only 15 bodies were recovered.

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