During the Election Speak Out for Workers Who Have Died on the Job
– Normand Chouinard –
Workers’ health and safety are very serious concern for the entire Canadian working class, but the cartel parties competing for power never seriously address these as matters integral to the social responsibility of those political forces that claim to represent the citizenry. The cartel parties look at health and safety as issues concerning “workers,” which fall under the control of the unions, the work milieu in general, labour law, or worse still, as an individual matter.
Let’s be clear! The health and safety of workers is not an issue of a private nature or solely to be categorized as having to do with the workplace and labour law. The health and safety of workers is a matter of human rights. Modern society recognizes the working class as the productive force that creates the value required by the economy and society to exist and develop. Workers fulfil their duty to work, therefore the economy and society’s duty and social responsibility are to guarantee the rights of the working class, the modern productive force, including their right to healthy and safe working conditions.
All political parties must take a clear stand on this and be accountable for their words, actions and decisions. Workers must not hesitate to demand that politicians be held accountable during the election process and in government, and that accountability become a permanent political practice.
Workers are well aware that in the neo-liberal world of the anti-social offensive imposed on the people by the financial oligarchy, all the productive forces — the material, natural and human resources — are placed in the service of the supranational monopolies. In this situation, the financial oligarchy strives to deprive the people of the rights they have by virtue of being human. For the ruling elite, rights pose themselves as blocks to their empire-building. The financial oligarchy considers the health and safety of working people as something to be sacrificed to protect and expand its wealth and power.
Truckers Are a Striking Example of this Reality
Day of Mourning ceremony organized in Mauricie, Quebec, April 28, 2018 to honour truckers who died on the job.
Canadian truckers are experiencing another very trying year. The number of road accidents involving transport workers that result in deaths or injuries continues to rise. In Quebec alone, from 2016 to 2018, the annual number of fatalities in collisions involving heavy goods vehicles jumped from 52 to 72, including truckers. This year, with 15 trucker deaths recorded to date, may turn out to be one of the worst years ever for transport workers killed on the job. Close to 11,000 collisions occurred Canada-wide involving large trucks in 2018, an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2011.
The simplistic explanation for the increase in accidents is the expansion of the truck fleet on the road during times of economic growth. Marc Cadieux, President of the Quebec Trucking Association went so far as to say, “If next year we fall into a recession, we won’t be on the road as much and our track record [of accidents, injuries and fatalities] will improve.”
Canadian truckers refuse to accept this superficial and, one could say, criminal analysis that their security is compromised during periods of economic growth to satisfy the drive of the supranational monopolies for wealth and power. Workers refuse to consider their lives as fair game in the empire-building of the financial oligarchy. Their deaths and those of others, as “road kill,” cannot be explained away as normal or logical statistics that result from more trucks being on the road. Such anti-social pragmatic notions regarding the rights of the people are unacceptable and must not pass! Solutions can and must be found!
Truckers demand working conditions that guarantee that at the end of the day, they will return home to their families. Transport workers, just like all other workers, do not see themselves as statistics and fair game to be sacrificed on the altar of maximum profit for the rich oligarchs. Their right to healthy and safe working conditions must be guaranteed under all conditions and circumstances.
During the election, let us ensure that wherever they can, transport workers speak out without hesitation for the rights of the living and in memory of those killed on the job. Workers demand accountability in politics and refuse to accept the silent complicity of the representatives of the rich in the House of Commons.
Empower Yourself Now!
Normand Chouinard is a transport worker and the MLPC candidate in La Prairie, Quebec.
(Photos: STTP camoniers)