The deaths of four miners, members of Local 598, were commemorated at a Workers’ Day Memorial held in Sudbury on June 20. It was on that date in 1984 when a seismic event struck northeastern Ontario, and resulted in a collapse at the Falconbridge Mine.
Three miners, Sulo Korpela, Richard Chenier and Daniel Lavallee were killed instantly. A fourth miner, Wayne St. Michel, remained trapped far below the surface. Rescue workers established voice contact with St. Michel who survived for 27 hours but tragically died just 15 minutes before he could be freed.
The first Workers’ Memorial Day was held the following year, and since then the annual event has expanded to remember all workers killed on the job or as the result of work related illness.
“It is important to use our collective voices to both draw attention to safety issues and to demand action,” said the Director of Health, Safety and Environment Sari Sairanen. “Change isn’t initiated because governments and employers suddenly decide to do so; it is brought about through our blood, sweat and tears.”
Those in attendance pledged to continue to fight for safe work places.
"We're pushing for stricter safety rules, making sure people do work safely and return to their families each and every day," said National Representative Richard Paquin.
Anne Marie MacInnis, President of Local 598, also paid tribute to the lost workers before leading a moment of silence.
"We don't want to forget the tragedy that happened, we can't forget,” said MacInnis.