Remembering Christmas eve scaffold tragedy

Community News & Features Dec 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm

TORONTO–December 24th marks the third anniversary of the Toronto Christmas Eve scaffold tragedy, in which four migrant workers were killed and another seriously injured after the scaffold that was supporting them collapsed. Aleksey Blumberg, Vladimir Korostin, Fayzullo Fazilov, Aleksanders Bondarevs, and Dilshod Marupov were reinforcing and repairing balconies when the platform they were working on snapped in half and plunged them 13 stories to the base of a Toronto apartment building. The accident occurred just as the five men were preparing to go home for the day.

Immediately after the workplace tragedy, UFCW Canada joined other social justice and labour organizations in calling for jail time for the owner of Metron Construction Ltd., but on July 13, 2012, Justice Robert Bigelow handed down only a $200,000 fine against the company for criminal negligence and the company’s owner evaded criminal conviction, facing only $90,000 in fines for Occupational Health and Safety Act violations.

The verdict marked the first time in history that an Ontario company had been convicted in a criminal court for a workplace death since the Criminal Code of Canada was amended in response to the 1992 Westray Mine Disaster. However, the leniency of the penalty sparked outrage among workers and led many to call on the Crown to appeal the sentence.

To commemorate the scaffold tragedy, UFCW Canada created a We Remember the Killed and Injured at Work poster, freely available in French and English for posting and sharing.

“We must continue to honour and remember the victims of this disaster by fighting for improved workplace health and safety protections and by pressuring governments and employers to inform all workers of their right to refuse unsafe work,” says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. “Having The Westray Act in place is one thing, but the full power of the law must be used to jail owners when workers are killed by a company’s negligence. That should have happened here.
Companies must see that if you kill a worker, you go to jail. Until then, Ontario workers will continue to be the victims of careless employers.”