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June 11, 2007

'Safety' Lottery Encourages Accident Cover-ups

Mittal Canada Contrecoeur-Ouest - Workers' Health and Safety Not a Lottery

" . . . the new management approach to resolving health and safety problems by draw . . . . a manoeuvre that . . . has had the perverse effect of encouraging people not to declare minor accidents"

    MONTREAL, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The 327 Steelworkers at Mittal Canada
Contrecoeur-Ouest decried the new management approach to resolving health and
safety problems by draw. The company recently introduced a draw system for
awarding prizes to workers in plants who have achieved or exceeded their
health and safety objectives for a particular quarter. "What we're dealing
with is a manoeuvre that other companies have already used to try and resolve
industrial accident problems, but that has had the perverse effect of
encouraging people not to declare minor accidents - which might ultimately
have a positive impact for the company, by lowering its CSST (Commission de la
santé et de la sécurité du travail) costs. After contacting the employer, we
asked management to sit down with the union to negotiate a genuine accident
prevention program based on a collective mobilization," declared Frank
Beaudin, labour representative at the United Steelworkers (USW)/Syndicat des
Métallos (FTQ) union.
    "What's more, the draw is not available to all workers in the plant -
only those who are part of a department that has met or exceeded the company's
objectives. We have also learned that a senior executive at another Mittal
facility in Quebec recently implied that the plant would not qualify for any
investments if it did not meet its industrial accident objectives. We condemn
this entire approach, since it could create unhealthy competition between
workers, opening the door to internal pressure targeting them, to ensure that
their respective departments are among the eligible ones," continued the union
    Dominic Lemieux, President of Local 6951, added that the workers are also
angry to see the company make a distinction between steel mill and rolling
mill workers. "We're all in the same boat," he said, "and dealing with the
same problems. We belong to the same union and we stand together, in
solidarity. We'll never agree to let the company treat part of our membership
like second-class citizens."
    For this reason, each worker in the eligible steel mill department who
wins one of these prizes has decided to turn it over to the union local's
social club in order to ensure that it is shared fairly in a manner that
serves all members' interests. "The company is trying to create divisions
among us. We asked them to reconsider their decision and to consult the union,
but they categorically refused to do so. The workers then decided to take
other measures. The teamwork of the two worker groups - the rolling mill and
steel mill employees - will make it possible for us to achieve our health and
safety objectives," concluded Dominic Lemieux.
For further information: Frank Beaudin, United Steelworkers (FTQ), (450)
359-4441; Dominic Lemieux, United Steelworkers, Local 6951, (450) 587-1179

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