Apr. 27: Tova Perlmutter and Rolly Marentette and Day of Mourning; Tim McSorley and the Quebec student strike; and Rockin Robbee in the studio on guitar

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On Friday’s program my guests and I had a discussion about the  International Day of Mourning for those Workers Killed, Injured or made Ill on the Job, which occurred on Saturday, April 28th. 

Windsor Day of Mourning. (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Workplace safety was again highlighted this year with a day of mourning in Windsor and Detroit and around the country. Statistics show that thousands of workers die every year and millions are injured. We get a glimpse of these statistics each time there are deaths such as the migrant workers killed earlier in the year in Southwestern Ontario, Kent Morton, who fell from the bridge, the two recent sawmill explosions in BC, and the three VIA rail engineers killed earlier in the year. More hidden are workers suffering and dying from exposure to toxic substances.

 Workers do recognize their responsibility to work safely and too often in this climate of attacks on the rights of workers and deregulation (or self regulation as the corporate PR people would have us believe) workplace safety is being pushed aside leaving workers – especially young workers – vulnerable to death and injury. Joint Health and Safety committees in union workplaces are the norm and in some non-union shops as well. Without them and the regular meetings and safety checks it is too easy to slip into bad habits and risky shortcuts. In all too many workplaces, no such regular training exists. The thing is, by bringing workers together for health and safety training and updating, workers tend to “reset” themselves and focus, even if just for an hour, on making sure they and their fellow workers are working safely and their managers are doing their part as well – it’s a form of bonding creating a sense that we are all in this together. Forever and a day, that workers should get paid time to increase their sense of solidarity has never sat well with any employer. Health and Safety Committees are another feature of working class history that had to be fought for and that fight included preventable deaths and catastrophic injury for decades in various workplaces.

In this clip, Perlmutter and Marentette describe their organizations and their relevance:

L to R: Rolly Marentette, Rockin Robbee, Tova Perlmutter (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Rockin’ Robbee sings Peace Love and Understanding:

 In the studio was Tova Perlmutter, Executive Director of the Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Centre for Economic and Social Justice in Detroit, and Rolly Marentette, Chair of Windsor’s Injured Workers Coalition. As well, Rockin’ Robbee was in for his regular last Friday of the month sound treat.

Here, Perlmutter briefly explains some aspects of US labour law, and Marentette lays out the numbers for workers killed and injured in the most dangerous occupations:

Perlmutter here puts US deaths and injuries into perspective:

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In the second half hour I spoke with Tim McSorley of the Montreal Media Co-op about the Quebec students’ strike: 

Featured CD:

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Sample track: